Wednesday, October 27, 2010

From Notes to Outline...

Today you are going to begin organizing your notes. It's the first step in creating an outline.

Creating an outline:

  1. Organize your notes according to your Plan of Development.
  2. Using a traditional outline organization, sketch the main body sections of the paper.

  3. Then, organize each sub-section, using your notes as a guide.

Remember: Each paragraph in your paper has a purpose--it is explaining or persuading your reader. When you don't know what should come next, ask yourself, "what do I need the reader to know to believe MY opinion?"

In your MLA Book instruction on outlining begins on page 48. Outline example on page 53.

Here is a picture of a properly formatted outline:

Still confused? Ask Ms. Miller for a Writing Research Papers book. Start on page 42.

Here is some advice from other people who've written research papers....

Arrange Your Notes by Topics -- (

Once you have taken color-coded notes, you will be able to sort your notes more easily. Sort the cards by colors. Then, arrange by relevance. These will become your paragraphs. You may have several paragraphs for each sub-topic.

Outline Your Research Paper

Write an outline, according to your sorted cards. You may find that some of the cards fit better with different “colors” or sub-topics, so simply re-arrange your cards. That’s a normal part of the process. Your paper is taking shape and becoming a logical argument or position statement.


All points must relate to the same major topic that you first mentioned in your capital Roman numeral.

The purpose of an outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before you start writing. A good outline is the most important step in writing a good paper. Check your outline to make sure that the points covered flow logically from one to the other. Include in your outline an INTRODUCTION, a BODY, and a CONCLUSION. Make the first outline tentative.

INTRODUCTION - State your thesis and the purpose of your research paper clearly. What is the chief reason you are writing the paper? State also how you plan to approach your topic. Is this a factual report, a book review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem? Explain briefly the major points you plan to cover in your paper and why readers should be interested in your topic.

BODY - This is where you present your arguments to support your thesis statement. Remember the Rule of 3, i.e. find 3 supporting arguments for each position you take. Begin with a strong argument, then use a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument for your final point.

CONCLUSION - Restate or reword your thesis. Summarize your arguments. Explain why you have come to this particular conclusion.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sula Questions, Part One (a)

What is the biblical reference to Shadrack? Why did Morrison choose this name for him?

Explore the relationship between Nel, her mother Helene, her grandmother Rochelle, and her great-grandmother Cecile. Why are the women separated? What separates them?

Why is the incident on the train between Helene and the conductor significant? What happens as the train travels further south?

How does Morrison use the notion of defilement in "1920"? Who is defiled? Why?

Explore the symbolic resonances of the Peace family. Is there peace in the Peace family? How are the names symbolic? How is Sula's name different?

Why does Eva leave her children? Why does she return with only one leg?

Why does Eva take Plum to the outhouse? What does she realize in asking herself this question?
Who are the "deweys" and what do they represent?

Why does Eva set Plum on fire? How does the narrative describe this scene? Why is the description important?

How are Nel and Sula becoming aware of their sexuality in this chapter? How do we sense this awareness? Do we also sense a threat of violence?

What does Hannah say to upset Sula?

Why do Nel and Sula watch Chicken Little drown? Explore the significance of his name and his death, especially in relation to the name of the neighborhood "Bottom".

Why does Sula go inside Shadrack's shack?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Trip to DePaul's Library

Nadia, Tierra and Natasha are going to the DePaul Library, in Lincoln Park to work on our Annotated List of Works Cited.

When: Saturday, 10/23--We're meeting at PSM at 3:00. Probably will get to the Library by 3:30

Where: 2350 N. Kenmore Ave

SP Work Day

Your Annotated List of Works Cited (plus notes) is due Monday, 10/25. Use this time wisely! Check out the links to the right. Remember to use your MLA book!

If you working on your documents at school and at home, take an inventory of what MS Word version each place need to save as the OLDEST version every single time you open the document, to ensure you can open it wherever you are editing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sula, Part One, "1919" Questions

1919, pgs 7-16
1.What war was Shadrack in? (Be careful!)
2.What doe the narrator’s description of Shadrack’s experience on December 7th tell the reader about his combat training?
3.What is "it" that Shadrack can’t feel?
4.Shadrack is thinking about the nail in his boot when going into combat-what would you expect him to think about? Why isn’t he? What is Morrison telling us about Shadrack and the war?
5.What does the headless soldier symbolize? Consider his actions.
6.Explain the irony in the straight-jacket episode.
7.Why might Shadrack be afraid of the sidewalks?
8.What are the properties of paper? Why might Shadrack think all the people around him are made of paper?
9.Think about Shadrack’s hands. What do they symbolize?
10.Why does Shadrack keep seeing the window and river? What are those things?
11.Why does seeing his own face calm him down?
12.What is the symbolic nature of Shadrack seeing his face in the toilet?
13.Explain this quote "He knew the smell of death and was terrified of it, for he could not anticipate it."
14.Think about the purpose of National Suicide Day. Why is it ironic?
15.The end of the chapter focuses on how NSD has been integrated into the neighborhood. What does this tell the reader about Shadrack, the community, and his place in it?
16.EXTRA CREDIT: Shadrack’s name is an allusion. Explain the significance.

ACT Question Types

look for the general, vague, or broad answer

don't look back! you don't need to.
make an assumption based on what you read

usually has a positive answer

when this question says "the passage states" or "indicates" the EXACT answer is in the passge.
if the question refers to a line number, read the lines before and after

must look back for context
read the lines before and after
re-read sentence with the choices in the question

answer this as a true or false question

Friday, October 15, 2010

Notes on Toni Morrison's writing...

For Morrison, "all good art has been political" and the black artist has a responsibility to the black community. She aims at capturing "the something that defines what makes a book 'black.' And that has nothing to do with whether the people in the books are black or not." She thinks that one characteristic of black writers is "a quality of hunger and disturbance that never ends." Her novels "bear witness" to the experience of the black community and blacks in that community.

Themes and Practices in Morrison's Novels

Sense of Loss.
Morrison feels deeply the losses which Afro-Americans experienced in their migration from the rural South to the urban North from 1930 to 1950. They lost their sense of community, their connection to their past, and their culture. The oral tradition of storytelling and folktales was no longer a source of strength. Another source of strength, their music, which healed them, was taken over by the white community; consequently, it no longer belongs to them exclusively.

Roots, Community, and Identity
To have roots is to have a shared history. The individual who does not belong to a community is generally lost. The individual who leaves and has internalized the village or community is much more likely to survive. Also, a whole community--everyone--is needed to raise a child; one parent or two parents are inadequate to the task. The lack of roots and the disconnection from the community and the past cause individuals to become alienated; often her characters struggle unsuccessfully to identify, let alone fulfill an essential self.

Ancestors are necessary: they provide cultural information, they are a connection with the past, they protect, and they educate...The ancestors may be parents, grandparents, teachers, or elders in the community...Morrison believes that the presence of the ancestor is one of the characteristics of black writing.

Extreme Situations
Morrison places her characters in extreme situations; she forces them to the edge of endurance and then pushes them beyond what we think human beings can bear. These conditions reveal their basic nature. We see that even good people act in remarkable and in terrible ways. Also, this "push toward the abyss" reveals
what is heroic.

Freedom and "Bad" Men
To be free, the individual must take risks. Morrison sees men ordinarily regarded as "bad," men who leave their families and refuse responsibilities, as free men. (She is using bad to mean both bad and good.) These men, who have "a nice wildness" and who are fearless and "comfortable with that fearlessness," are misunderstood and therefore condemned. Morrison admires them as adventurers who refuse to be controlled and who are willing to take risks. Because they own themselves, they are able to choose their own way to live their lives. Blacks have been cut off from their own natures and needs by conforming to the rules of white society. The outlaw serves as a partial solution to the problem of being out of touch with the essential self.

Morrison is not advocating irresponsibility and destructive or chaotic behavior, however. She believes in the necessity of being responsible for one's choices: "freedom is choosing your responsibility. It's not having no responsibilities; it's choosing the ones you want." Jan Furman comments, "She respects the freedom even as she embraces the responsibility." Unfortunately, in our society, "many women have been given responsibilities they don't want" and which they could not refuse. Consequently, they are not free.

Good and Evil
Morrison shows understanding of and, often, compassion, for characters who commit horrific deeds, like incest-rape or infanticide. This trait springs in large part from her attitude toward good and evil, which she distinguishes from the conventional or Western view of good and evil. She describes a distinctive view which, she claims, blacks have historically held toward good and evil: It was interesting that black people at one time seemed not to respond to evil in the ways other people did, but that they thought evil had a natural place in the universe; they did not wish to eradicate it. They just wished to protect themselves from it, maybe even to manipulate it, but they never wanted to kill it.

Loss of Innocence
Innocence has to be lost in order for the individual to grow.

The Black as Other
Morrison presents the white view of blacks as the Other and the blacks' experience of themselves as Other
She believes that blacks were used to control succeeding waves of immigrants in order to prevent class warfare. Immigrants were given the blacks to feel superior to; they were not at the bottom of the social ladder-- blacks were. Blacks also provided immigrants with an identity, i.e., they were not blacks. So, in an ironic way, the Otherness of blacks helped to unify the country and to give immigrants their American identities. She calls learning to perceive blacks as the Other a traumatic experience, like being told "that your left hand is not part of your body."

excerpt from

Annotated Works Cited Reminders

Remember, the content of your A.W.C. will be graded on these criteria:
10-15 valid sources
Annotation must indicate why the source is useful for YOUR paper.
Should be clear how the source is tied to your thesis.
Student should be able to discuss any source with the teacher.
Students will turn in their notes, which correspond, with the Annotated List of Works Cited.

As well as the Format rubric you've been given.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Senior Paper Lab Days

Each Thursday, I've schedule lab time for our class. You should be working on the next due date for your senior paper. Currently, that means you're working on your Annotated List of Works Cited.

If any student abuses this time and chooses not to use it wisely, we will cancel our lab workshops for the Senior Paper.

Please use the links in the upper right corner when needed. You can find sources, dictionaries, formatting help, etc.

Friday, October 1, 2010

English 4, Quarter 1 Exam Review sheet


  • Oedipus Rex
  • Antigone
  • Sappho’s poetry
  • From Plato’s Apology

Other Content

  • Vocabulary units 1-2
  • Research, note-taking, thesis writing


  • Identify and explain use of figurative language, symbolism and irony in all literature read in Q1
  • Evaluate character motivation and author’s purpose in creating each of the character
  • Recall vocabulary meanings
  • Write in Standard English using proper grammar and language mechanics

Exam Format

  • Multiple Choice
  • Fill in the Blank
  • Reading Comprehension and Analysis
  • Short Answer
  • Essay