Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dystopia Essay Assignment

Dark City
Reading requirement: Minimum two books from Dystopia Reading List. One must be a book from a series you have not previously. The second may be a re-read or from a series in which you have previously read a book (though the second may also be a new read). You are free to read more than two books and then choose the two you’d most like to read about.

This essay will have three parts. Each part should have multiple paragraphs.
Please include a title and heading on your paper. Use 1.5 line-spacing and size 14 Calibri font.

Each section of the essay must include one quote directly from one of the books (three quotes total minimum). You must quote from both books. Please record the page number the quote comes from.

A. Define the concept of dystopias. How and why are they formed? What are common characteristics of dystopias? How do dystopias differ from utopias? Explain why the societies in your two books/series are considered dystopias.

B. Describe the relationship between the individual and society in your two books/series. What happens to the individual in a dystopia? Is the disappearance of the individual a bad thing? What problems are avoided when people conform? What new problems does conformity create? How important is it for people to have choices? Use examples from the books to illustrate your answers to these questions.

C. Which book/series do you think has the strongest message? What is that message? Why is this message important to you? How does this message relate to the society in which you live? What is the message in the second book? What makes this message less strong and resonant? Use examples from the books to illustrate your answers to these questions.
Blade Runner

Tuesday, January 13:  Reading Completed
Monday, January 19:  Part A due
Friday, January 23: Part B due
Thursday, January 29: Part C due

Friday, December 12, 2014

12.13.14 Virtual Kombucha/Bob Dylan Celebration

Hooray! This very special day is finally here. 12.13.14 only comes around once every hundred years. To celebrate this momentous occasion, on 12.13.14 at 15:16:17 military time (that's 3:16 p.m. and 17 seconds), please take a drink of kombucha or any other type of delicious juice or soda and listen to a Bob Dylan song, preferably "Forever Young." Oh yeah, December 13 is also Mr. Gacek's birthday. Happy Birthday, Mr. Gacek! (It's number 41, but who's counting?) Please leave a comment on or after 12.13.14 15:16:17 to tell us how you marked this very special occasion.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dystopian Fiction Reading List

Reading Requirement: At least 2 books from this list
One must be a book you have not read in a new series.
One may be a re-read or a sequel to a previously-read book

The Giver, Lois Lowry (companion books: Gathering Blue, Messenger, The Son)
The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau (sequels: The People of Sparks, The Prophet of Yonwood, The Diamond of Darkhold)

Uglies, Scott Westerfeld (sequels: Pretties, Specials; companion: Extras)
Matched, Ally Condie (sequels: Crossed, Reached)
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (sequels: Catching Fire, Mockingjay)
Divergent, Veronica Roth (sequels: Insurgent, Allegiant)
The Maze Runner, James Dashner (sequels: The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure; prequel: The Kill Order)
Legend, Marie Lu (sequels: Prodigy, Champion)
Blood Red Road, Moira Young (sequels: Rebel Heart, Raging Star)

Incarceron, Catherine Fisher (sequel: Sapphique)
Lockdown: Escape from Furnace, Alexander Gordon Smith (sequels: Solitary, Death Sentence, Fugitives, Execution)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

TV Review: Doctor Who, Season 1, epidosdes 1-3 (2005)

 Yes, this was my introduction to Doctor Who. I've been aware of the fandom, both on a global scale and a NOVA scale, for quite some time, but I had never actually sat down and watched the show before. So I decided to start at the beginning, or at least the beginning of the re-boot.

I watched three episodes: "Rose," "The End of the World," and "The Unquiet Dead."

"Rose" introduces us to our heroine, Rose Tyler, played by a very young Billie Piper. Rose is a normal London girl who works in a department store and lives with her mum. However, her life is upended when one night the mannequins in the department store come alive and ominously move to attack her. However, Rose is in luck because the Doctor appears to save the day. So begins the adventure. This episode's story is very cheeky, mixing humor with mild amounts of action and suspense. But it's all good fun, and Christopher Eccleston makes an excellent Doctor.

In "The End of the World," the Doctor and Rose travel 5 billion years into the future to witness the destruction of Planet Earth. This episode features a parade of bizarre aliens, in what I'm guessing is a nod to the somewhat campy sci-fi roots of the series. Once again the Doctor and Rose are in great peril, and this time the Doctor must evade some giant propeller blades to flip a switch to reset the system which will protect the ship from the exploding Earth. That's right, 5 billion years in the future manual switches are the only way to reset computer operating systems. Another fun episode.

In "The Unquiet Dead," the Doctor and Rose travel back in time to 1869 Belfast. This one is a ghost story, only the ghosts are aliens, and Charles Dickens is one of the key supporting characters. Fun period details, and this time Charles Dickens saves the day.

While these episodes were fun, they're still rather lightweight. My sense is that the most-loved episodes in the series are yet to come. I like the series so far, but...I don't know that I'll ever be a hard-core Whovian. I'm just not sure Doctor Who will be able to enter my pantheon of all-time great shows: The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Freaks and Geeks, Twin Peaks, et al. But we'll see--I'm enjoying the series so far.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

¡Hay una fiesta en mi panza!

Happy Chadian Freedom and Democracy Day, everyone!

Monday, November 17, 2014

North Africa Quiz

Tassili n'Ajjer Mountains, Sahara Desert, Algeria
Countries: Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Chad, Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan.

Practice Map Quiz: Africa North of the Sahara (includes review countries).

Blank map of Africa: d-maps.

Quiz Date:
November 21, 2014.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Africa Country Pitch

Choose an African country that you’re interested in learning about. Your job is to make a pitch to convince your classmates to visit this country. Your pitch is meant to be read out loud. Use convincing language. The more interesting and exciting you make your country and destinations sound, the more your classmates will want to visit them.

Red lechwe in Okavango Delta, Botswana (Photo: Michael Poliza)
Prior to composing your pitch you will need to take notes. Use notecards for your notes. You need at least one notecard per section. In addition, you need a separate notecard on which to keep track of sources. For each source, record the title of the website (you do not need to record the URL). You need to utilize at least 3 different websites.

Your pitch will include six sections, and thus must be at least six paragraphs in length. Include at least 4 photos and a map.

Your pitch must be entirely in your own words. You may gather information from the internet. However, the actual writing should be your writing. Plagiarizing from the internet will result in a zero for the project.

Introduction: Explain why visitors should want to visit your country. Provide an overview of what visitors can expect to see and do in the country. Explain why these sites are worth visiting.

City: Spotlight 3 landmarks within the city. Describe what each landmark is, why it is significant, and why visitors should want to visit it.

Adventure Activity: Choose an adventure activity visitors can do in your country. Explain where they would go to partake in this activity. Describe what the activity would entail. Describe the scenery surrounding this activity.

Site of Historical Importance: Choose a site of historical importance within your country (it may not be located in the city you have already spotlighted). Describe the site. Explain why the site is historically important.

Animal Spotlight: Choose an animal which can be found in your country. Describe the animal. Explain what makes this animal interesting or unique. Explain whether or not this animal is currently endangered.

Conclusion: Re-emphasize why a visitor would want to visit your country.

As you know, in real life it is dangerous to travel to some countries in Africa. For the sake of this project, assume it is safe to travel to any country in Africa.

Do not include any humor which would be in bad taste. Do not include any ebola references. You need to take this project seriously.

There are many websites which can aid you in your research. Here are some places to start:

This assignment will be due on Friday, November 21.

Golden Compass Illustration and Final Question

Golden Compass Illustrations

Pantalaimon in ermine form (sketches by Emma Williams)
You will illustrate a scene from The Golden Compass. You will first need to create a rough sketch. The rough sketch should be in pencil and does not need to be perfect.
The Final Illustration should be created on the drawing paper provided. Illustrations should be oriented in landscape view (sideways or horizontal). Illustrations should be colored with colored pencil. The illustration should be zoomed in on the thing which is being depicted. Your illustration should not be  zoomed out so that figures and objects are tiny. You need to fill in the entire space of the paper with your drawing.

You need to print one or two sentences from the book at the bottom of your illustration. The sentences should refer to what is being illustrated. Please ink your sentences with Flair pen.
Print your name in the bottom right corner of you illustration.

Due Monday, November 24.

Golden Compass Final Question

Re-read Chapter 21: "Lord Asriel’s Welcome." Lord Asriel explains that he intends to travel beyond the aurora, to find the source of Dust and destroy it, thus destroying original sin and with it all the death, misery, and destructiveness in the world. Why does he want to do this? Do you think this is a good idea? What is the downside of living in a world with no sin?

Due Thursday, November 13.