Thursday, November 28, 2013

happy thanksgiving

Here are some simple, FREE tips for enjoying your Thanksgiving weekend:

1. Don't go shopping today.  (Learn how Big Retail is trying to kill Thanksgiving)
2. Don't go shopping tomorrow. (Learn the Dirty Secrets of Black Friday "Discounts")
3. Seriously, don't go shopping tomorrow. (video of Black Friday chaos

Wishing you and your families a happy, healthy, less expensive Thanksgiving! :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

final presentations

Pondering your presentation preparation?

In contrast to the vocabulary final (Wednesday of dead week, December 4), which will be about as formal and anti-fun as you can imagine, and the essay final (Thursday of dead week, December 5), which will require you to organize and articulate your expertise on multiple texts and literary elements, and which will probably make your pen-wielding muscles ache, your final presentation



This is your opportunity to showcase:
  • What you've learned for the first time;
  • What you've improved the most;
  • What you've done best;
  • What you want to learn more about;
  • What you know;
  • Your strengths and talents.
That's it.

(Imagined) Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How will we be graded?
A: Creative/effective communication of a topic that convinces your audience that you've mastered an element of the course = A.

Q: What tools/media can we use to create our presentation?
A: Anything that doesn't harm sentient beings or break any laws/school policies.  Except posters.  No posters.

Q: Is there a time limit?
A: Sort of.  We will be limited by the number of presenting groups in each two-hour final period.  However, if you use online media we can direct the audience to your site for the overtime.  This may be an interesting way to augment/replace what I have in mind over the break.  If your group has planned a presentation that you know won't fit into the final period schedule in its entirety, please plan on showing the "directors' highlights" and walking your audience through it.  Please remember-- and this goes for everyone-- to leave a couple of minutes for Q&A.

Q: Can we collaborate with students in other classes?
A: Yes.  You may collaborate with anyone on Earth.  Extra credit if you collaborate with anyone not on Earth.

Don't forget the secret ingredient.  Please plan to submit your group's proposal in class on Tuesday, December 3.  Have fun and comment to this post with questions/ideas.

november 26


Often our bodies live in the present and our minds live in the future.  What are you looking forward to this afternoon, over the Thanksgiving weekend?

1. Journal
2. Working period: papers/writers' conferences
3. Turn-in option

1. If you turned in your paper, please post to your blog (title: PAPER CUT) about the experience of writing and turning in your completed draft.  What did you do well?  What do you hope to improve?  What was new about the experience and what did it teach you?
2. If you didn't turn in your paper, please post to your blog (title: PAPER CUT) about the experience of writing, revising, and improving your paper.  What did you do well, what do you hope to improve, what is challenging about the experience, and what is it teaching you?

Monday, November 25, 2013

racism in the news (II)

What does it say about our society that a man can be arrested FIFTY-SIX times just for going to work?

sample works cited page

Here is a link to Purdue University's OWL Writing Lab/MLA formatting & style guide.

racism at san jose state

Our research topic, sadly, is in the news.

november 25


(1) On Thursday million of Americans will eat until they are sick. Why?
(2) What are you thankful for?

1. Journal
2. Citations/formatting
3. Abstract
4. Due dates: pros and cons of turning in next draft before/after weekend

1. Citations
2. Abstract
3. Revisions

Friday, November 22, 2013

november 22

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Money Song" by Monty Python; "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits; "Eat the Rich" by Aerosmith]

In reading about & discussing your plans for the future I was struck by the prominent role that money plays in your thinking. It motivates some of you ("I hope to earn $[X]") and worries many of you ("I can't pay for college"). This isn't necessarily good or bad, it just makes me curious about how we make decisions and develop expectations. What if you removed money from the decision-making equation and began a different sort of "self-overhearing" about your future? How would your new performative utterance sound if it were a simple declaration of what you're curious about, or what you do well, or what type of life you'd like to lead? How might it change your thinking and your course of action?

1. Journal
2. Working period: writers' conferences & paper revisions

1. Synthesize your paper and revise for flow
2. Remember to include one quote/reference for each major idea in your introduction
3. Check this space later today for citation template
4. Create your Bibliography/Work Cited page
5. Bring revised paper including Bibliography/Work Cited on Monday, December 2
6. Prove you can read (due by 11:59 P.M., Sunday December 2)

"i never learned to read!"

You know, as much as we talk about reading, it's easy to overlook the fact that some of us didn't grow up with books and occasionally have a hard time with the basics.

Consider poor Wayne:

So, how do you know how well you can sound out words and get through a text without mistakes?

Here's how:
1. Watch the video below;
2. Get a copy of Fox in Sox by Dr. Seuss;
3. Set up a phone or a camera (or get a friend to help);
4. Read the book as fast and as well as you can;
5. Record your time and the number of mistakes you make;
6. Compare your numbers with mine.  Don't forget to count my mistakes--I just learned that I've been mispronouncing the author's name my whole life!
7. Post your video and your stats on your blog under the heading I CAN READ!

UPDATE: In reply to questions from the email bag...
  • If you're having trouble finding the book, here is the text without the pics. 
  • My reading was a one-take job, but yours doesn't have to be.  You can practice all you want before posting your best effort.
  • To earn course credit you must post I CAN READ! by 11:59 P.M. Sunday, December 1. (Bonus for add'l. Thanksgiving renditions with friends/relatives :)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

canadians save shark from choking on moose

Q: Why post an item about Canadians saving a shark who beached himself while choking on a 2-foot hunk of moose on an expository composition course blog?

1. Because it's awesome.
2. Because I can.
3. Because I'm pretty sure there has never been a story about Canadians rescuing a beached shark choking on moose before, and therefore I'm pretty sure there has never been a story about Canadians rescuing a beached shark choking on moose featured on a high school English course blog, so I get to claim this is as a historical first.

alice goffman and social research

Check out this approach to learning about racism in a community.

november 21

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "The Sound of Neurons Firing" by Expos Comp Students]

Write an account of a bug flying along the 101 and getting mashed on the windshield of a truck.  Tell the story as seen by the bug, the windshield, or the driver.

1. Journal
2. Picking up the research paper pieces and putting them together

1. Add 5-10 resources that add meaning to your paper.
2. Read through your text and edit for flow.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

and the word of the year for 2013 is...

(seriously, no kidding, according to the Oxford Dictionaries)... selfie.  "As Ben Zimmer wrote at Language Log, 'Youth slang is the obvious source for much of our lexical innovation, like it or not.'”

a word from valerie rhs '13

I just received this email from Valerie Gonzalez, who graduated RHS last year. I receive lots of email from alumni but this one stands out. Why take my word for "life after high school" when you can get real-time info from someone who is living it? (FYI: we will be using this as our curriculum post-paper and pre-final.) Please feel free to take her up on personal statement advice-- Valerie is (obviously) a terrific writer and you're lucky to get her help for free.

november 20

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Sizzle of 40 Minds Concentrating in a Gentle Rain" by Expos Comp Students]

It's been a while since it rained. What does rain signify/symbolize in literature and film? What moods and memories do you associate with it?

1. Journal
2. Take advantage of writing weather: draft conclusions

1. Collect your Introduction, Methodology, Findings, Implications for Future Research, and Conclusions sections and bring them all to class Thursday, November 21.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

november 19

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Sounds Of Pens Furiously Scribbling Profound Thoughts" by Expos Comp Students]

You wake up in [pick your favorite year before 1950] and you are immediately arrested by authorities who spotted your smart phone and want an explanation.  Tell them what it does and how it works.

1. Journal
2. Discuss/collect "Findings" section
3. "Implications for Future Research"

1. Complete the "Implications for Future Research" section (1-2 pp.) and bring hard copy to class tomorrow (Wednesday, 11.20)

Monday, November 18, 2013

racism, evil, and me

After reading paper drafts and introductions this weekend, it occurs to me that not all of you are convinced that racism has anything to do with you.  It does.  Whether or not you have witnessed an act of racism, whether or not you are a member of a traditionally underrepresented minority, you exist at a moment in history when racism exists.  The next generation will be absolutely correct in staring you down and asking, "You were there-- why didn't you do something?"  Here are some historical versions of the idea:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. (attributed to Edmund Burke)

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. (translated from narrator's original Russian in Sergei Bondarchuk's film adaptation of Tolstoy's War and Peace)

The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. (Plato)

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. (John Stuart Mill)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

november 18

When should an argument bring people together? When should it end a relationship?

1. Journal
2. Research Paper, Section III: Findings
3. Return work / writers' conferences

1.  Finish Section III: Findings (1-2 pp.) and bring hard copy to class Tuesday, November 19
2. Vocabulary Review

incorporating twitter

Q: Wouldn't it be cool if Dr. Preston started dropping hints about finals on his Twitter feed?
A: Yes, it would.
Q: What is Dr. Preston's Twitter handle?
A: @prestonlearning
Q: Sweet.
A: Yes, it is.
Q: Why does he only have 423 followers?
A: Because he spends less time on Twitter than you do on homework.

Friday, November 15, 2013

there is no them

Throughout history, very bright people have stood idly by while terrible things happened to others.  For those of you who don't think racism is a big deal because it doesn't personally affect you, consider the following [image/layout borrowed with gratitude from Real Knowledge Data Network]. 

"First They Came for the Jews"
By Pastor Niemoller

 "The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." - Ayn Rand
First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

inside the world of competitive laughing

You read that right.  Meet the laughletes.

collaborative working group: oh the [project] humanity!

If you haven't already heard, Danny and Lesther have teamed up to create Project Humanity.

Here is their most recent announcement to ASB and faculty:

Project Humanity - a RHS Club of concerned students - would like the entire student body to join in and help send our support to the people in the Philippines after the devastating typhoon last weekend. We are asking that tomorrow during 3rd period - a coin can will be sent around to each class. Please just drop in any coins you might have in your pockets. Many have been affected so every cent counts. Let's show that the Righetti Warriors are always willing to help out in times of need so that they will push on and never give up on life which are the true warriors in life. The people of the Philippines will be ever so grateful for your support! Thank you so much!

personal perspective on haiyan

This first-person perspective is as powerful as the storms of nature and politics that inspired it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

november 15

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Plastic People" by Frank Zappa; "15 Steps" by Radiohead]

The word plastic doesn't just refer to a moldable solid; it also suggests a feeling of artificial, fake, inauthentic.


How do you know when a person is the real deal and not just a poser?

1. Journal
2. Introduction/P2P evaluation
3. After you're introduced and you like what you see, take the relationship to the next level (Research Paper, Section II: Methodology)

1.  Complete and print draft of 1-2 page Methodology Section and bring hard copy to class on Monday, November 18

stop punting!

According to this article, how does traditional/habituated thinking inhibit success?  Are we "ready for what we think we want?"

canada's newest export: nice graffiti

This graffiti is impossibly gentle and good-natured.  I'm off to draw a smiley face somewhere (legal).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

november 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["King Without a Crown" by Matisyahu; Hawai'i '78 by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole]

What's important to you when you meet someone?  Is it the way they dress, or smell, or sound, or look, or stand, or talk, or shake your hand, or look at you, or... [?] 

1. Journal
2. Research paper, Chapter 1: Introduction

1. Re/write the introduction to your research paper (1-2 pp., due Friday, November 15)

collaborative working group: project positive

Feeling down about the world?  Join Project Positive, where "small changes make big differences!"

novelists unite!

Hats off to everyone who is writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month-- check out the novelists' blog!

r.i.p. clifford nass

Clifford Nass was a Stanford professor whose research on our relationship with technology yielded great insight.  He showed that multitaskers are "terrible at every aspect of multitasking" and our computers make us "feel good or bad" in ways other tools don't.  Read more here.

a history of the college application from 1856 to today

The post of this title is actually the subtitle of the article I just read.  The title of the article I just read is...

How Getting Into College Became Such a Long, Frenzied, Competitive Process

white supremacist discovers he's part black

I don't know what's more surreal, the fact that this happened or the fact that Dave Chappelle wrote a skit predicting it.  

november 13


Author's choice-- season with ideas about/for your paper.

1. Journal
2. How to hack your Frankenpaper

1. Reflect on the blurb you wrote today in class, and post a brief explanation of your initial reaction to the paper, your personal passion/field of interest, and how you intend to link this to the general topic as we move forward (title: CONNECTING THE DOTS).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

they loved your gpa then they saw your tweets

Read this.  Then share it with your colleagues who still don't know better.

take out your mental trash

Isn't that a more interesting title for a blog post than "get some sleep"?

november 12


Describe a time you were "in over your head" and explain how you dealt with the situation.

1. Journal
2. Quick-write
3. Discussion: term/research paper
4. Research strategies
5. Safety in numbers
6. Turn in papers, quick-writes, and group commitments

1. Find five sources that will augment your research

Friday, November 8, 2013

term paper requirements

Based on our discussions in class and online, here are the requirements for the term paper.  Late/incomplete work will not be accepted.  Please comment to the post or email with any questions.

Given our recent study of the communication issues that contribute to racial profiling, you may select any relevant current event, topical issue, or theoretical construct (e.g., hate speech, stereotypes, verbal/paraverbal/nonverbal communication) to research and explicate in a well-organized and professionally presented term paper.  You are encouraged to examine the topic/s through a personally relevant, meaningful lens; feel free to integrate your own experiences and explore academic or professional areas of interest (psychology, law, anthropology, neuroscience, et al).
Papers will be collected at the beginning of class on Tuesday, November 12.

Your paper must be:
  • 10-12 pages in length, excluding title and Bibliography or Work Cited* pages (*Please Note: a Bibliography includes all the sources that inform your thinking, and Work Cited means exactly that, i.e., the sources you quote/reference directly.)
  • Typed in Times New Roman 12-point font and printed on 8.5" x 11" white stock
  • Bound with one staple in the upper left-hand corner at a 45 degree angle (no folders or plastic slip covers)
  • Well-researched, as evidenced by a Bibliography or Work Cited page that includes a minimum of 15 highly credible references (*Please Note: Five [5] of these references must be academic books, chapters, or peer-reviewed studies/articles.)
  • Presented in Modern Language Association (MLA) style 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

november 7-8


Write about something important to you.

Write about something funny.

Write about something that's bothering you.

Write about something you wish could/would happen.

Or, write about all of the above.

Or, write about something else.

1. Work individually and/or collaboratively on your research project.
2. Literature analysis work (if applicable).

1. Schedule yourselves and work consistently so that you have everything finished and posted by 12:01 A.M. on Tuesday.

research project

Here are my notes from period 0 and period 1 this morning.  I write fast, but I'm certain that I didn't capture everything, so please add your thoughts in the comments.  I will review the thread with you and fabricate the final question/s and evaluation based on your feedback tomorrow (Thursday).

Relevant TOPICS we've covered:
  • the "right" to our opinions
  • the value of life
  • schema, stereotypes, and racism
  • ingroups/outgroups
  • interpersonal communication (verbal, nonverbal, paraverbal)
  • limitations of the First Amendment (hate speech, obscenity, anything that causes immediate harm to the nation or its people)

Suggested questions:
  • How do our genetic heritages and cultural understandings of communication contribute to racism?
  • How can we improve relations between people of different backgrounds?
  • Is racism a "special" form of discrimination, or is it just another way to separate ourselves from others?
  • NOTE: find the discipline/angle that links with your Big Question or personal curiosity (anthropology, neuroscience, psychology, [?]) and use the opportunity to learn more about how the field you're interested in views the issue
  • Reviewing popular and academic literature in the library and online
  • Asking questions (personally or via survey) to conduct research
  • Citing student blogs
Criteria for success:
  • Mechanics (spelling, punctuation, etc.)
  • Evidence (quantity and quality of cited sources)
  • Organization
  • Compelling argument/s

youtube question

Does anyone know how to post a still photo for a music video, so the video just displays the pic throughout the song?  Please comment with your how-to wisdom.

november 6


Describe your favorite color-- to a blind person.

1. Journal
2. [ ]
3. RESEARCH PAPER (due by 12:01 A.M. Tuesday, November 12)

1. Start your research paper.  Seriously.  Do it.  Now.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

november 5

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins; "Riders on the Storm" by The Doors]

We all encounter emergencies-- illness, earthquakes, stalled cars, the occasional zombie apocalypse--so what can you do to be prepared? Describe planning or training for something that might actually happen.

UPDATE: That topic was a repeat!  (Thanks, Joe, and shame on the rest of you. :)  Try this one:

Describe the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you. 

1. Journal
2. Paying attention
3. We are our curriculum: vocab list and reading
4. Group assignment

1. Read  Erica's blog post and the article it's based on closely, analyze both, and post a response to your blog (title: 7 TIMES)  [update: for more see Javi's blog and/or en loco politico]  Here are some questions to get you started: 1. What is Erica's tone?  2. What are the facts?  Do you notice any difference in the facts   3.  What conclusions does Erica draw?  4. What writing techniques (figurative language, punctuation/capitalization, etc.) does Erica use to effectively communicate her message?  5. How does Erica's essay compare with Javi's (get past the simplistic "better/worse" and consider style, emotional impact, clarity, and evidentiary support)?

Monday, November 4, 2013

november 4

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "I Make My Own Rules" by L.L. Cool J; "Come Together" by The Beatles]

Describe a school rule you think is ridiculous and explain how you would change it.

1. Journal
2. Vocabulary #9

1. Finish definitions and usage (sentences/narrative) for VOCABULARY #9 by class Tuesday
2. Skim the Racial Profiling unit (after the jump).
3. Read this recent article and list/define/use 10 more vocab words that you think would help you understand it. Also take reading notes and post on your blog (title: RACIAL PROFILING LIVES ON), and be ready for a quiz Tuesday.

congratulations thunder drumline

Congratulations to (author) Jon Begg, Ricky Luna, and the other members of the RHS Thunder Drumline on their Dia De Los Muertos performance and taking the #1 High School Percussion Award at the 35th Annual Pismo Beach Marching Band Review!

vocabulary #9

(thanks for the additions! :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

congratulations annette and gabby

Congratulations to Girl’s Tennis Champions Gabby Pereverziev and Annette Sousa.  Good luck at CIF!

(I didn't catch this article about Annette when it came out, better to share late than never.  Kudos, Annette! :)

inside the cheater's mind

In attempting to answer the question, "Why do people cheat?" this article concludes, "A solid moral compass can, in other words, lead one safely through dim rooms with graffiti-covered walls."  Hey, wait a minute: WE work all day in a dim room with graffiti-covered walls... 

member blogs: best of

I was just reading through the Member Blogs when I realized spent five minutes longer than I thought on Valentina Alvarado's blog.  (I showed it--by request-- when I guest-taught a sophomore class yesterday.)  Why was I reading back through vocabulary and an analysis of Steve Jobs' commencement speech ("stay hungry, stay foolish!") that I'd already read?  There's a special quality about some of these blogs: the features, the layouts, the music (or quiet), the colors/graphics (or minimalist/functional design)... they just seem to work.  When a site draws you in like this, you begin to understand why there is an entire field of study dedicated to user engagement.  Kudos.  Please Note: There are lots of great ones, please comment to this post with your favorites--it might help someone's grade.

[Speaking of Kudos: I forgot to type/take a picture of the Kudos in class today-- will post Monday.] 

nominate the youth

If you know a young person in grades 5-11 who would be a good candidate for this opportunity, please share this link with him/her.  Mahalo.

If you ARE a young person in grades 5-11 who was referred here by someone who thinks highly of you (or you are lucky enough to have stumbled on this site by accident), please read the following letter and, if you're interested, compose an email-- WITH a parent or guardian who likes the idea-- and send it to

people to people -

Friday, November 1, 2013

hating on daylight saving time

Until this author gets his way, we're stuck with it.  Don't forget to change your clocks on Sunday. :)

november 1


Recap the last two days in class.  What have you learned about how we communicate as individuals and Americans (as provided for by the First Amendment)?  And: with your quiz in mind, did you do better than your neighbor?  Is this a function of attention, concentration, memory, dumb luck, or something else?

1. Quiz
2. Journal
3. Listening up and paying attention (how do we DO these things?)

1. Check out this site and report your experience/observations in a post entitled WHAT I SEE IS ALL IN MY HEAD.  Given today's conversation in class, how much of our understanding comes from what's "out there" as opposed to the meaning we create "in here"?