April 2010

This is the assignment, rationale (all in a previous blog too) and the rubric with the graded response to Laura Z’s completed assignment.

eng 310 first assignment

Below is Nicole Baniukaitis assignment that I completed

ENG 310 nicole’s assignment

Also here is the story that Laura read for my assignment

The Hit Man

I really enjoyed reading Pitts’ columns. He has the perfect amount of incite, comedy, and sarcasm to get his point across. We all read in class the article about his ways of describing what makes a man. It’s very powerful stuff. My favorite article was about Sarah Palin. I am a liberal minded person especially when compared to the conservative mind so naturally I think Palin is a quack and should have no business even poking her head into politics because I think it’s way over her narrow minded oil drilling head. So when Pitts wrote something about Palin, I had to read.

This whole article could be summed up with these lines:

“Something is wrong when we celebrate mental mediocrity like yours under the misapprehension that competence or, God forbid, intelligence, makes a person one of those “elites” — that’s a curse word now — lacking authenticity, compassion and common sense.”

He touches upon a great point that people are accepting mediocrity. He sort of says that people like the fact that she’s stupid. I mean people are relate-able if they are like themselves. And I have heard that people that do like her think she has the average American in mind. If they like the fact that she’s incompetent and no one knows what she’s talking about then lets have her run the country. I mean we already put up with 8 years of Dubya, and that turned out great. If people really want one of their “own”  to run the country and Palin runs for presidency and wins then America is in deep trouble because that means us English teachers will have to teach extra hard to give some common sense to the majority of our country.

Jared Maynard


In this New York Times article, Donadio brings up some interesting points of criticism of Ellie Weisels’s Night. Night is a very popular novel, and one that we have done extensive analysis on, but it does not hide from critical reviews. Critical analysis of a text is always a good thing and something we strive for in this class. It helps to think about the text in different and critical ways. It helps to see the validity in a document and question what it is really telling in a situation. The Holocaust is a topic that more and more people are trying to figure out. It was a horrible event that is hard to comprehend people being a part of. Night does give a great first person narrative of a real-life but does it give us the whole story? Do certain parts of the story try to convey a meaning that deters away from the main point? Are there other parts of the story that promote other meanings that are potentially bad? Or are is this story just not very good or telling? These are some of the questions critics try to answer or critique. Critiques are also important because criticism open’s the public eye to new books. People naturally want to know what is controversial. It can raise public intellect because it gives readers new ways of looking at novels and have them question why certain things are the way they are in a novel. It can also make literature better in the future because if something is not true or not all the way true, authors will do more research and think about criticism before they even start and make the novel richer.

Your task is to either write about the different critiques Donadio talks about in his article or to make a critique of your own. Either way you must create or defend an argument and back it up with relevant details. The point is to inform people of a different perspective that an average person may not exactly catch after one read. If the argument is not backed up with relevant details to support your argument then it probably won’t make much sense and the reader will dismiss it. 2-3 pages should be enough length to get your thoughts out.

Today is Friday and you will have until Monday to turn in a rough draft and will have until next Friday to turn in a final copy. On Monday you will workshop your rough drafts with other students, and then have the rest of the week to finish.


  • Does Night fail to create a coherent artistic world out of one which was the deliberate negation of all values?
  • Does Weisel simply just “pour salt” on the Jewish wounds and not let them heal?
  • Does Weisel promote “peace and human dignity” with this novel? (What he won the Nobel Prize for)
  • Is Weisel too “universal” with his writing? Should he include more details about what happened?
  • Do you think Weisel is just looking for press and wrote the story for publicity?
  • Or write about something else you found odd or in need of criticism.

Your papers will be graded on:

Thesis/Argument The argument is grounded with sufficient details and makes sense There are some good details to back up a relatively good argument The argument is not supported with good details The argument makes no sense
Paragraph Structure Each paragraph details a specific example of the argument and explains it clearly Each paragraph details an example of the argument and Paragraphs are fuzzy and seem to just be thrown in there No structure at all
Cohesiveness Flows easily and is well organized Flows somewhat well an has some degree of organization Scattered, unorganized Didn’t even try to write much at all
Grammar Less than 1 or 2 grammar mistakes Less than 1 or 2 grammar mistakes but a couple spelling errors Enough grammar errors to distract the reader Too many grammar errors

This assignment will be done somewhat towards the end of the year in an 11th grade classroom. It is part of Unit 11.5 which is called, “The DNA of Survival”. As a reader I want them to learn about the depths of human tragedy and how people survive horrific events. I want them to read and find out what sacrifices of everyday life people have to give up. I want them to learn how to be open-minded when reading and apply the experiences to their lives.

As writers I want them to pay attention to specific events and analyze them. The point of this writing assignment is to think of the story and what makes it work and what does not make it work. This essay is to make them pick apart the novel and to create, come up with, argue against, or argue for an argument.

For the GLECS it fits under Unit 11.5 under Literacy Criticism. It involves critical reading of the text to find aspects to argue for. It also makes the students write a persuasive essay finding supporting evidence to back up the argument.

In the broad sense of the curriculum, this will be the final assignment before reading Maus. It will give them experience of looking at critiques of texts and experience in persuasive essays and critiques. After reading Maus they will do a comparative essay of the two survival novels.

After reading, “The Hit Man”, think about the main character not in just terms of what happened in the story, but who this character is. Think about, based off the story, what the main character would be in to, their passions, the things that make them tick. Try to answer all the questions and use the question guide and answer the questions as detailed as you can. After each question is answered write a character sketch. A character sketch highlights several important characteristics or personality traits of a person. This will help you know the character as if they were a real person and not just a character in a story.

An important aspect of this writing assignment is to not just provide a summary, or even just list the answers you wrote on the answer sheet. The point is to provide a sketch for what this character is. When someone reads this paper they should feel as though they know who the character is before they read the story. For starters to help out, you can first write about someone you know as an example. You could fill out the questions about that person and then think about how you would describe them in a sketch-like format.

I want you to read the story, and then re-read it as many times as you need to pick out all the essential parts of the character so you feel as though you know them.

It may be challenging to take single and seemingly unrelated sentences to make a sketch but think of it as describing one of your friends. Use transition sentences that make the paper flow from one topic to the next. Employ sentence variety too, not every sentence should start with, “This person’s favorite thing is… or They like to do this….”. Use clear and concise sentences and use relevant evidence from the text to answer your questionnaire. For instance, put in an example of why you put down your answer for the question.

Each character sketch will be graded on the following:

On track! Getting There… Needs more attention… At least try!
Questionnaire completion At least 15 questions answered 10 questions answered 5 questions answered Less than 5 answered
Effective use of transitions Feels as though someone just didn’t copy their answers into written form. Reads like they are getting to know someone. Close to the on track but there are few instances of sentences that don’t connect. Reads as a list with little attempt to transition Is just like a list
Cohesiveness and structure Flows easily and is well organized Flows somewhat well an has some degree of organization Scattered, unorganized Didn’t even try to write much at all
Use of relevant details Each detail of the character is carefully distinguished and makes sense There are some details as to why the character is like how they are Not many details, some random explanations No details at all
Grammar Not many grammar mistakes A few mistakes A lot of mistakes I can’t read it
Length At least a page long Not enough details to make a half page but there’s some there Not much at all Nothing

I envisioned having students start this around the very start of their high school lives, probably in the first week or two of the class. This story can be used in a bullying sense and give appreciation to other characters and how they are influenced by their surroundings. In model 9.1 there is an emphasis on how to approach reading a short story. I chose The Hitman because it is very short and it is a story with headings on top of each paragraph or two highlighting the stage of life the character is in. It can be a relatively easy introduction to this topic, while at the same time giving them some ideas to think about within the text involving bullying, individuality, morality, and characterization.

As a reader I want my students to make connections to themselves. I want them to see what this character finds valuable in their life and how he got to that point. The character sketch is supposed to have them dig deeper and put the character in relatable terms. Terms that many people share but may not be highlighted in the text. I want the readers to see the progression of this man and how the headings enhance the story. In the process they should analyze the character and how the plot, setting, conflicts, and any other aspect influence the character. Everything in this story is in there for a reason and it chronicles someone from their childhood to adulthood. All of these processes emphasize the character.

As a writer I want them to see how the headings fit and see how it fits. I want them to analyze how well this shows this man’s progression through life and if it could work any other way. As a writer for this assignment I want them to dig deeper in the details of what the author has shared with the audience and write about who this character is. They should be able, with the questions to find a relatable stance on what makes this character and why they are the way they are. In the actual character sketch I want them to practice sentence variety and creating transitions. This is important because making something narrative from a questionnaire or bullet points can be an important writing task. The clear and concise sentences are to practice this style of writing for later in their high school career as well as for college.

The biggest thing I want my students to learn fit in the 9th grade expectations in section 9.1. Character development and basically characterization (under Narrative Text) are the keys and along the way they’ll take into consideration the plot, setting, and the conflicts in order to fill out this sketch (Under Genre Studies). In the process they have to read to know understand the story and the questionnaire should help them think about and analyze the main character (Under Reading, Listening/viewing strategies and activities). I think this assignment fits into several overarching goals of the 9th grade curriculum. It helps to understand and practice writing as a recursive process. They have to draft a paper and write often which works on fluency (1.1). It definitely helps with using writing for understanding and growth. The whole point of the assignment is to learn and understand the main character of this story (1.2). It also allows the students to communicate in writing using content, form, voice, and style appropriate to the audience and purpose (1.3). The purpose of this assignment is to give an analysis of what this character is like in different situations where if someone read the sketch, then the story would make perfect sense. In the process the students would be gathering and studying evidence from the story to answer the questionnaire (1.4) which helps them draw conclusions and make a sort of report. The overall arching unit is about identity and looking at other people’s identities and finding and realizing the similarities and differences. For model unit 9.1 I think the main purpose is to introduce the students to the standards of good writing and to expose them to stories like The Gift of the Maji, to give them a feel for identity and short story writing.

The students will make one draft, share with a partner and then turn in a final copy the next day (since it is a short assignment).

These are some of the standards I found, but in a scattered form

9.1, Genre studies. Plot, setting, conflict, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, mood tone style

Literary Devices: narration/point of view

Reading, Listening/viewing strategies and activities: Read first to understand, then analyze, summarize information,

Narrative Text: examine characterization, self assess

Writing Stratgies: employ sentence variety, use transitions effectively, use clear and concise languages.

What have we accomplished today? Not much that I can see, well kind of now that I look at it. Still, the whole day was kind of disappointing to me. We did get a couple of things done that I am okay with. We decided to look at standards, do a writing assignment, and spend the last day sharing our writing as a class. Most of this is good. I like sharing what I have written this semester because this is the first time I have really started to write creatively. Most of this is because of my creative writing class and deciding to have an English minor last summer. I liked that I have learned to write creatively, and even write in general something that wasn’t a history or political science paper. It allowed me to be myself, it allowed me to want to think creatively in writing, and through some of the literature I’ve read it has given me some cool ways to show my social studies class the horrors of the Civil War (Shiloh anyone?)

I like the writing assignment that we have decided to do because it kills a couple birds with one stone: it gives us some sort of final assessment for the end of the year (and doesn’t give us a real final exam) and it teaches us how to assess writing ourselves while trying to learn the GLECs. First and foremost those are the things that we need to learn about and have practice in. I really didn’t think we could get by the rest of this semester and not do anything. To me this is a slam-dunk and something that will be very useful to us for the rest of the semester and the beginning of our teaching lives. It seemed to take forever to finally get to that decision but it was made none the less and the language of the first proposal of the same thing was finally cleared up.

The process of figuring out the rest of our semester with the “Roberts Rules” seemed to be a bit chaotic for me. I certainly understand giving people power to second a motion and having people discuss the topic and then do a vote. However, it seemed that a lot of things we talked about, motioned, seconded, and spent a great deal talking about really seemed to distract what was proposed in the first place. In my opinion, instead of randomly yelling out something that we wanted to do, I thought we should have gone down the list of proposals and see how they related and talk about the overall issue. I think a lot more would have been done. Obviously the hot-button topics were learning the standards (along with figuring out how to plan around them and make a yearlong syllabus), learning some assessment strategies, and figuring out what should be due on the last day and what we should do on the last day. It just seemed like someone would bring up some sort of vague request that needed more attention and brought more questioning that wasted time trying to figure out what is right for our semester. Part of me ranting is a little bit of me expressing a fault of mine which is not being able to move fast enough with all the different topics. I tend to think hard about what someone previously said and then when new topics come up I try to completely think and understand that. To me it just seemed that a lot of the tangents took away from the overall picture of trying to figure out what is best for us for the rest of the semester.

For the most part I may be suffering from, “Well no one agrees with my exact syllabus of I came up with and how people should believe what I believe-itus” or some run on sentence I’m trying to come up with to be witty but it’s true. I wanted to look at standards, figure out a writing assignment and do something fun the last day. We got that part somewhat figured out. What we didn’t agree on, for some God-forsaken reason I can’t seem to fathom, is voting down writing questions to teachers and have it videotaped. WHAT THE HELL?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I am completely dumbfounded that a motion like this was so overlooked and called for a vote so fast. The only reason I thought it could be a vote was because it seemed like such an obvious activity for us to exercise and learn from. I for one am going to be student assisting next semester and so are others. How would it not be a good or even great idea to communicate with REAL- LIFE secondary English teachers before we enter the game? It gives us a pretty easy way to talk to teachers about a number of things: GLECs, how they deal with them, strategies they use in the classroom, how they like to plan for classes, how they do lesson plans, how to handle poetry, how to handle any other forms of assessment, their teaching philosophy, the research they do, how they handle parents, what they do with their free time, when is their free time, how long it took to get comfortable with themselves in the classroom, learn about the lifestyle they lead in order to be better teachers, what they do when things go wrong, right, or nothing at all, learning how far in advance they plan classes, how influenced they are by technology, what gets them in trouble with administration and/or parents, what kind of leniency they are allowed in the classroom, what kind of reading schedule do they have outside the classroom, see if they have a life at all, figure out the little things to do right in the classroom….. basically we could ask secondary  teachers ANYTHING we wanted to help us in the future and have it all on tape (by Dr. Ellis’ own suggestion which is fantastic she has that ability) and over half the class says no. I think it’s absolutely ludicrous this opportunity could be lost, and wish I knew of a way after the vote to say something about it. That is why I left with an uneasiness in my stomach and don’t feel as though things went right and I believe we need more time to discuss what needs to be done. Most congressional roundtable talks don’t last just 45 minutes (I know as a class that’s all we have and this is my idealistic rant) but that’s my opinion. I feel we lost a great opportunity to tap into teacher’s knowledge of what they are doing in a secondary classroom today.