A Mimic Poem

So in class recently we’ve been studying poetry — all types, those that rhyme and those that don’t . . . ballads, elegies, odes . . . (Well, we haven’t got to odes yet, but they are on the horizon.) There were two that we read by Walt Whitman, famous American writer. We read “O Captain! My Captain!” and “I Hear America Singing” together. Then, I asked students to “mimic” the style of one of those poems and write their own with their own choice of a subject. I gave them a handout for each poem to guide the process. After students wrote their poem, I asked them to use the iMovie app on our iPads (or another app of their choosing) to do three things: (1) record themselves reading their poem; (2) provide visuals for the viewer to look at as they listened to the audio recitation of the poem; and (3) provide lyrics (like subtitles) along the bottom of the film clip. Once finished, they were to create a blog post on their blog, and the blog posting needed to contain their poem, and the uploaded media file of their audio/visual poem.

I did one too; here is my sample:

by Jennifer Rovira

I see Ladera Vista learning, the varied lessons I see,
Those of our custodians, each day the vision of them working to keep our campus maintained,
The teachers learning theirs as they grapple with implementing new standards and delivering their instruction,
The students learning theirs, as they explore new technology or are collaborating on assignments,
The admins learning about providing intrepid leadership, while supporting faculty and students,
The office staff learning as they perch at their work stations, the parents requesting assistance,
The lunch ladies, our ASB’s as they prepare for a school dance, or a lunchtime activity, or a spirit day,
The intense learning of the maintenance crew, or of the conscientious bus drivers, or of the nurse administering medicine or checking a temperature,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day — at night the quiet blanket of calm, serene, tranquil,
Learning with inquisitive minds their very valuable, lifelong lessons.

(Audio visual iMovie will be uploaded soon!)

Valentine’s Day Bonus Opportunity

I will never offer “extra credit” to just one person. (And I usually ask you about your missing assignments first. Doing those and getting them turned in sometimes makes a world of difference.) Anyway . . . Whenever I offer a “bonus” opportunity, I offer it to everyone — to be fair.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and because I love candy hearts, although I am very particular about which kind I like (see this post where I briefly explain the difference), I am offering a Candy Hearts Writing Bonus opportunity.

Here’s how it works:
(1) I will give you three candy hearts. They each (of course) will have a message on them.
(2) You connect one heart’s message to something in history (for a history bonus) in 250 words posted on your blog.
(3) You connect one heart’s message to something you are currently reading (for an ELA bonus) in 250 words posted on your blog.
(4) I am giving you three hearts just in case . . . it gives you a little more to work with.
(5) You may do the ELA bonus, the HSS bonus, or both.
(6) You may eat the hearts when you are done.


Here’s how it might work for ELA:

It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m celebrating by eating candy hearts. All candy hearts contain a message, and one of mine reads “Got cha!” This makes me think of what I am currently reading with my students in literature. It is a book entitled Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang. It is more of a personal narrative or autobiography, rather than a novel, and it tells about the author’s personal experiences living through the Cultural Revolution in China, which started in 1966. Ji-li was a model student whose world was turned upside down when she discovered that her family (and those of some of her friends) had skeletons in their closet, according to the Communist Chinese government. Ji-li’s grandfather had been a landlord, and her family was accused of having bourgeois tendencies. Because the government was encouraging a campaign of getting rid of the four olds — old habits, old ideas, old traditions, and old culture — families were encouraged to destroy anything that fit that criteria. Old china, old photo albums, old traditional clothing . . . all had to be thrown out. Of course, some families didn’t want to give up these precious family heirlooms. So they hid them. At the same time, though, bands of youth known as the Red Guards, took it upon themselves to search various homes, ransacking them for evidence of “four olds” stashes. Drum and gong sounds alerted neighborhoods that the bands of Red Guards were coming. Whose house would they visit this time? Ji-li and her family lived in a state of nervous anxiety, wondering when their family’s apartment would be targeted. Days passed. “Got cha!” It finally happened one night. The Jiang family was subjected to the dreaded search; after the Red Guards left, it took two days to set their house back to rights. I thank goodness this is nothing I have ever experienced, nor am likely to experience here in the U. S.

Intelligence for Charlie: Not Necessarily a Positive Experience (unfinished)

According to the Stanford-Binet Intelligence test, only 2.2 percent of the population will receive in Intelligence Quotient (IQ) score of 130 or higher. The current population of the United States is roughly 313.9 million people. This means that nearly seven million people in the United States have an extremely high IQ, given most of the population will attain a score that ranges from 85 to 115. On the other end of the spectrum, the same percentage of the population (2.2 percent) will have an IQ less than 70. The sci-fi narrative “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes has as its main character a man named Charlie who has an IQ of 68. Charlie has an experimental operation to increase his intelligence, and it more than triples after the operation. However, with Charlie’s increased intelligence — literally moving from one end of the spectrum to the other — comes problems he didn’t expect to encounter. Charlie’s limited time as an extremely intelligent person was not a positive experience for him; if he were given a chance to go back in time, he should not have had the operation.

Although Charlie felt he would be a happier person with increased intelligence, this was not the case. In one of his Progress Reports to his doctors, Charlie reports that he went out with his coworkers to a bar one night and got drunk. The reader understands that the coworkers purposely left Charlie all alone at the bar as a sort of joke, but Charlie doesn’t know this. It isn’t until he becomes incredibly intelligent that he realizes these coworkers have, in fact, been treating him as a laughingstock and a source for their own amusement. He feels ashamed and

sick inside . . . like [his] chest it feels empty like getting punched and a heartburn at the same time

Later on in the narrative, . . .

Delicious Chicken Piccata

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Chicken Piccata is a delicious chicken dish that is easy to make on a weeknight after a long day of work. Follow these steps to make Chicken Piccata on your own or for company! First, get two chicken breasts. If they have skin, make sure to take off the skin. Cut them in a butterfly style (giving you four pieces total), and then season the chicken with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Just a light sprinkle of each seasoning is enough. Then, let the chicken rest on a clean plate while you go to your cupboard and get some flour. Pour some flour into a dish, and then take the chicken and cover the chicken on all sides with the flour. Shake off the excess flour from the chicken and set it aside. Repeat with all of the chicken breasts.

Meanwhile, the next thing to do is to get out your pan that you will use to cook the chicken. Also get out some butter and olive oil. Put the pan on the stove and turn on the heat! As the pan warms up, get two tablespoons of butter and three tablespoons of olive oil. Put them in the pan to melt and heat up. When the butter and olive oil are very hot, place the chicken in the pan to cook. Cook the chicken for about five minutes until it is browned, and then turn it over to cook and brown on the other side. After the chicken is nicely browned, you’ll need to transfer it out of the pan to a clean plate while you cook more of the chicken you prepared in flour. Add two more tablespoons of butter and another two tablespoons of oil to the pan. Add more chicken to the pan and cook these pieces of chicken the same as you did the previous pieces. When these pieces are done, add them to the plate containing the other pieces of chicken.

One the chicken is cooked, the last step is to prepare the lemony caper sauce for the chicken. To do this, you’ll need to add a third of a cup of fresh lemon juice and one-half cup of chicken broth to the butter and olive oil already in the pan. If you like, you can also add in 1/4 cup brined capers. These are like little olives or peas, but if you don’t like them, leave them out — the Chicken Piccata will still taste delicious! Let the mixture in the pan heat up, and stir the concoction occasionally to get the cooked bits at the bottom of the pan mixed up in your sauce. It will add to the overall flavor. Remember the chicken resting on the plate? Put it back into the pan now, and make sure to coat the chicken with your zesty sauce. Let the chicken sauteé in the pan for about five more minutes or until totally cooked. The last step is to take it out of the pan, now that it is cooked, pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley, and serve it with one of your favorite side dishes.

You’ll love Chicken Piccata, especially if you like foods with a hint of lemon. Not only is the chicken tender and delicious, you’ll also feel good knowing you’re eating something that is healthy for you. Stay in tonight — and make Chicken Piccata!