Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Today in class students revised their Pronoun Case Essay Exam 1, where needed, as well as revised the Letters to the Governor. Some students worked on Point of View in Pidd. Homework is to complete the exercises. We reviewed the section.

We also read a bit of
Always Running. We will be reading about 60 pages a week. Read the new introduction and what follows up to page 40 for Monday. Keep a reading log which contains a brief summary, vocabulary plus definitions, questions, key arguments, and preparation for the Literature Circle depending what your position is in the group.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thanks Patrice for sharing your birthday with us this afternoon (smile). We hope your new year is fantastic!

Today in class we continued in Cisneros with "Boys & Girls." If students have not responded to the two chapters "Cathy Queen of Cats" and/or the following chapter, "Our Good Day," complete that as well.

We reviewed Pronoun Case and then read "Synthetica" and identified the errors. Homework is to typed the errors (7) and bring in electronically in essay form: heading, header, double spaced, 1 inch margins, Times Roman font. We will complete the introduction and conclusion together.

Bring Always Running Monday, Feb. 27, as well. Mail your letter to the governor. Let us know if you get a response. Bring a copy of the letter to me. Post it as well. Students also were supposed to do another cyber-assignment. Check the blog and make sure you are caught up.

We will write an essay in class next week, taking its topic from Yummy.

Pidd teaches us to pay attention to the details. Make sure you do so in your own writing. Proper nouns need to be capitalized. There should be two spaces after a period. Don't forget to complete the ellipsis exercises in the ancillary before typing your Pronoun Case body paragraphs.

Note the following:

Check your sentences against the errors recap:

1. ". . . Ditch wanted to come with Camper and I . . ." (1).

2. "the General attacked two of the hill divers, Camper and
I . . ." (1).

3. ". . . Ditch was smarter than Camper and me . . ." (1).

4. "Me and Camper laughed . . ." (2).

5. "It was me . . . " (2).

6. "you are almost as pretty as her" (2).

7."[I]f the Pidd men, Sid and me, can do a little camping . . . (2).

Monday, February 13, 2012



Today the plan is to watch a film entitled Juvies.

This film looks at the incarceration of children in California. It looks at the effectiveness of giving juvenile offenders such long sentences. Does locking up children who break the law make society safer? What are the short and long term consequences of incarcerating youth for up to 25 years for first offenses? What do we mean as a society when we speak of rehabilitation?

When thinking about Robert "Yummy" Sandifer, how does he fit the profile portrayed here? How is he different? What solutions are offered or suggested?


Write a letter in Yummy's voice to Governor Jerry Brown on behalf of juvenile inmates in prisons in California. Include background on his life. The letter should be minimally 250 words or 1 typed page.

Perhaps you could start with:

13 February 2012

Dear Governor Brown,

I just finished watching a film, directed by Leslie Neale, called Juvies. I found the film really provocative, in that I learned a lot about my situation and how much control I had over the choices I made as a child 18 years ago before I was killed. Sitting in the way station between heaven and hell, I have had a lot of time to think. I feel like an advocate for other lost boys like myself, kids shown in the film like Duc's story which is so sad. He was brutalized by a father who didn't know how to use his words.

My story is . . . . You probably read about me. I am not proud to have made such a splash on the cover of Time magazine, but call it my cry for help which wasn't heard or answered. I am still crying from the grave, the statistics are horrendous and climbing to date.

Back to the situation in California's juvenile facilities take . . . case, why. . . .

Juvenile detention is a crisis in America and California is the leader in incarceration.



Director’s Statement

"When I started volunteer teaching at Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles, I was naïve to juvenile justice, thinking children were handled fairly and with care, not only for their safety, but also for the safety of the public at large. What I found is that scores of children are getting thrown away in adult prisons instead of staying in the rehabilitative environment of the juvenile system, a structure originally designed to protect them from ending up in the adult system. The making of “Juvies” has made my life make an irrevocable turn towards correcting the juvenile justice system, making it one that is run with intelligence, responsibility and mercy."

n September of 1999, Chance Films was invited to observe a writing program at Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall. What the filmmakers saw in that writing program inspired them to do a similar program using video cameras. They saw the need to give the kids in the Hall a voice that could reach beyond the walls that separated them from free society. What they didn’t know was that teaching basic video production skills and interviewing techniques was going to link them irrevocably to these 12 kids and a cause that most people would turn their backs on: correcting the juvenile justice system and making it one that is run with intelligence, responsibility and mercy.

The filmmakers were naïve to juvenile justice, thinking children were handled fairly and with care, not only for their safety, but also for the safety of the public at large. What they found was that scores of children were getting thrown away in adult prisons instead of staying in the rehabilitative environment of the juvenile system, a structure originally designed to protect them from ending up in the adult system.With the help of cameramen, producers, friends and a passionate nun, the video production class began in earnest in September 1999. At first, the administrators of the Hall were receptive, but cautious. After showing up two times a week for a few months, they realized this crew was really there to help the kids reach into themselves and out to others who were on the cusp of being pulled into the system. That didn’t make working within the system any easier, however. As the histories of these individual kids came to light in the class, the filmmakers realized there was more than a class happening here, there was a story to be told, a story that had the potential to impact thousands of people. They began working to garner all the approvals necessary to put these kids on camera and be able to use their stories to educate others about the system and how to avoid falling into it. The kids involved in the class were all chosen at random, based on very specific criteria:1. They had to be getting tried as adults;

2. They had to be facing long-term sentences;

3. They had to be under 18 so that they would continue to be housed at Juvi for as long as possible to get the most out of the class; and

4. The filmmakers had to get signed consents from the kids, their parents and their attorneys.The first group of kids was taught in the library of the boys’ school, with natural lighting and two cameras. This was the only program to allow a mix of boys and girls in the same class. Many times, the filmmakers would arrive prepared to teach and the kids were not available. Other times, they would work with only one or two of the kids. The participation of the kids was iffy at best, given individual court appearance requirements, availability of staff to be on premises with the kids and lack of communication amongst the Juvenile Hall staff.As time progressed, the kids were being tried, convicted and sent on to County Jail or State Prison. As the kids were sentenced to long terms and even life behind bars, the filmmakers were getting their own education. The naivete began to fall away and the truth of the failing juvenile justice system was making itself known. In May of 1999, high school student Duc was arrested for driving a car from which a gun was shot. Although no one was injured, Duc was not a member of a gang, had no priors and was 16 years old, he received a sentence of 35 years to life.Fourteen-year-old Anait, an Armenian immigrant, had been given a car by her parents. She drove two boys to a high school and dropped them off. The boys got into a fight with another boy and subsequently killed a third boy who attempted to break up the fight. Because she was the driver of the “getaway” car, Anait was charged as an accessory to first-degree murder and originally faced 200 years. She has since taken a deal and is serving 7 years.Then there’s Mayra, a girl raised in the gangs, who at 16 was asked by her gang to kill a girl who had broken one of their rules. She was sleeping with a boy from a rival gang. Mayra shot this girl, did not kill her, but paralyzed her for life. This girl was her best friend. Mayra received Life plus 25 years for her crime and had a baby while in juvenile hall. She has gotten to see her son two times since his birth. He is now 3 years old.At first the filmmakers thought these cases were the exception, but as time went by and all the kids were convicted and sentenced to adult prison facilities with long sentences, they began to realize this was the rule.

Being tough on crime is one thing. But trying children as adults, and dispensing brutal sentences that are shockingly out of proportion to the offense, is quite another. Most Americans would say this can’t happen here, yet for thousands of young people, this is the reality of the present day juvenile justice system, which has turned its back on its initial mission to protect young people and now sends over 200,000 kids through the adult system each year.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


Cyber-Assignment on Yummy

Today in class students completed Essay 1: Sentence Punctuation. Some students had not typed their essays; other students were still working on exercises.

We divided the class and reviewed the essay together. If you are a student who did not complete his or her essay. Email it to me after checking it to make sure it is correct (pp. 50-51). Bring a copy of the essay to class if I do not respond with a grade.

In House on Mango, read stories: "Cathy Queen of Cats" & "Our Good Day." Students can respond to one or both. Remind me to backtrack and have students respond to "Boys & Girls." We skipped it by mistake.

The Interrupters Film

I have lots of tickets left for the film at the OM tomorrow the James Moore Theatre (10th & Oak in ). Students can start arriving at 4 p.m. for the reception. Be at the OM by 4:30 so we can go in together and get good seats. Call me if you are running late or cannot find me. I will be at the OM early. I have an interview with Aminah before the film.

If you can't make it, don't forget to watch the film on Feb. 14, 2012 on Frontline World (Channel 9). The link is below. There will be a writing assignment attached to this film.

I will show you a film on Monday entiled Juvies. Visit


Homework is the continue in Pidd. Keep doing the exercises. We will have a quiz on "Sentence Punctuation" on Monday. We will also complete the next quiz, "Pronoun Agreement." The Monday-Wednesday sessions are going well. We are entering week 4 next week. I will not continue the two days--I am getting tired. Forgot to eat lunch and I am still here (smile). I will host a drop in writing workshop in March at the same time.

Yummy Homework: Food for Thought

Writing homework is to reflect on Yummy. The reflection should be 250 words min. It can be longer. Bring the response into class on Monday. Post here.

Questions to consider

Why was Greg Neri drawn to the story? (Read the end flap of the cover). What are your initial impressions to the Time article and to Neri's book? Was your response visceral as well? Does Yummy's story make you want to do something too?

How well does the author capture Yummy's character, personality and circumstances that led to his behavior and ultimately to his death?

How does what happened to Yummy impact his community and the larger society?

What do you like the most about the book? Be specific.

How is Yummy's nickname insight into his character. Use examples to support your claim. For example, he liked candy and stuffed toys.

He was a complicated little boy. Why is it sad that his only photo was a mug shot? Talk about the narrator, 11-year old Roger. How is Roger's story a glimpse into the larger question American society needs to face? How could someone know "100 Yummys"? Why is Yummy's grandmother's cry justified to a certain extent: "Why'd y'all let my baby go like that? Why'd y'all get Yummy killed?!" (Neri 86). Why does Roger's father comment on the Time article that the only way his community gets press is when someone kills or is killed (Neri 89)?

Different themes come up in the story: neglect, fear, safety, pain, addiction, crime, approval, faith, regret, forgiveness, home, society, family, judicial system. Which ones struck a cord with you? Talk about why you were affected by certain themes and how the both the author, Greg Neri and the artist, Randy DuBurke, illustrate this?

If you profile Roger, the narrator, how does he escape Yummy's fate? Why does Roger's brother have a change of heart? Why do you think about Roger's parents response to Gary? What do you think about the scene from the classroom?

Why does Neri include scenes from the school where Yummy went to school, the garage where he learned mechanics, the places where he played with friends and foes? Was there a chance that Yummy could have ended up differently?

Is Shavon's death a symbol, just as Yummy's is as well? Did they die by the same sword? How?

Is this story one about choices? Did Yummy have a choice? How many times did he say, "I didn't do anything wrong?" and eventually, "It was an accident"? How does society hold an 11 year old accountable for his deeds? Is there such a thing as redemption? Who decides whom gets to atone?

How do the two boys, brothers, Cragg and Derrick, who kill Yummy, get trapped in the net? They were book smart, but street stupid? Look at their choices.

There are many biblical references. In fact there are scenes where Yummy prays and the community prays, not to mention the name of the gang, Black Disciples. How does this further complicate an already complex, not easy to rationalize or dismiss, story.

Why or how does a city come under siege like Yummy and Roger's? Does it seem as though the community caves in or gives up? Do you know places like this? What happened? Do you have any answers? Are there any answers?

What are your lingering questions?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

In class we reviewed the entire first Pidd essay: Pronoun Agreement which is due, typed and printed out Wednesday. We then continued reading Yummy. Our freewrite from Mango was "Hairs."

Read the Times magazine article and complete the assignment posted last week. Bring in the annotated article Wednesday for further discussion. We meet in A-205. Bring your laptops, just in case we don't have enough computers for everyone.

Oh, in Pidd continue doing the exercises.

Students also let me know whether they planned to attend the OM Screening of The Interrupters on Thursday, Feb. 9. I still have tickets. Let me know if you want one or two. They are sold out, so if something changes let me know. The event is free.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Cyber-Assignment and Homework

Stewart Pidd Hates English

Today we had a lot of new students in the class. Instead of moving along we will continue with the first Pidd essay Monday, Feb. 6. Complete all the exercises in SPHE before class. We will start the essay which will be due Wednesday, Feb. 8, typed, printed out.

Our freewrite was the title chapter in House on Mango Street.

If any students is finding the exercises difficult, come by my office for the Pidd Boot camp (Monday & Wednesdays, 10:30-11:30 a.m. D-219).

Cyber-Assignment Response to Times Article

Other homework is to read the Times Magazine article. Annotate and bring a copy to class. Respond to the article in 1-2 pages. Include 3-5 free paraphrases in the summary essay. Refer to Pidd if you do not know what a "free paraphrase" is. We reviewed this last week. Post essay here.

Some students have not responded to the syllabus yet.

If you don't understand something, call me. I forgot to put my cell phone number on the board for students who might want to call me. Ask for it next week.

I'd like for us to go on a field trip this month, February 9, to see a film released theatrically last year called, The Interrupters. This film, which takes place in Chicago, looks at violence in the community and a program that addresses this.

At the screening there will be people on a panel afterwards entertaining questions, one who is in the film. The film screens on television February 14, 2012 on Frontline:

Free Community Screening
The Interrupters

(I reserved 20 tickets. If you want to reserve tickets yourself here is the link:

A Film By Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz

The Interrupters tells the stories of three "violence interrupters" who, with bravado, humility, and even humor try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they themselves once employed.

4:00-5:00 PM Light Reception

5:00-7:00 PM Film Screening

7:00-8:00 PM Panel Discussion

Oakland Museum of California
James Moore Theater
1000 Oak Street
Entrance on 10th Street

After the film, join us for a panel discussion moderated by The Ella Baker Center For Human Rights' Abel Habtegeorgis and featuring two of the film's inspiring subjects, along with youth and adult leaders engaged in violence prevention work in Oakland to talk about what needs to be done here at home.

Ameena Matthews, Ceasefire Chicago (featured in the film)

Eddie Bocanegra, Ceasefire Chicago (featured in the film)

Kyndra Simmons, Intervention Specialist, Youth ALIVE!

Anthony Del Toro, Street Outreach Leader, California Youth Outreach

Moderator: Abel Habtegeorgis, Media Relations Manager, The Ella Baker Center For Human Rights

Presented by ITVS, KQED, The Ella Baker Center For Human Rights, Top Ten Social, Youth ALIVE!, and Urban Peace Movement

This event is a part of Women And Girls Lead, an innovative public media initiative designed to focus, educate, and connect women, girls, and their allies across the globe to address the challenges of the 21st century.

*PLEASE NOTE RSVP's do not guarantee seating. Seating is on a first come, first served basis.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?