Monthly Archives: February 2011

Freshman Composition Syllabus Wk 1-2


I’m working on my final. For week 1-2 in composition, I want to address the following:

Week 1-2  Expressivism

Autobiographical sketch/memoir/topics that relate to the student in his or her community

Allow students to gain a sense of self and gain some confidence in their own writing as they begin their first week in college writing.

Personal narratives and observations provide students with a way in to the writing process. The teacher teaches prewriting techniques such as freewriting, mapping, clustering, and the use of journals.

I need your opinion on the two different approaches to the first writing assignment: Memoir. After discussing what it is and providing some samples of the good, the bad and the ugly (still to be determined), they will receive some handouts. What works? What doesn’t? Let me know.

Personal Memoir Writing Assignment


An autobiography is when a person tells the story of his or her life.

A personal memoir is a true story about just one very important incident in a person’s life.


A personal memoir is written in the first person, using the pronoun I. It has clear narrative structure – A beginning, middle, and an end. Because it is an important event, a memoir usually reveals something about the person’s personality. When writing a memoir, include information about the time and place as background to your story. Remember to write about an important moment or event in your life that reveals something about your personality and a “so what” moment.


memoir, n. a written record set down as material for a history or biography: a biographical sketch: a record of some study investigated by the writer: (in pl.) the transactions of a society. [Fr. mémoire — L. memoria, memory — memor, mindful.]

Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary, New Edition, 1972.


memoir, n. [Fr. mémoire, masc., a memorandum, memoir, fem., memory < L. memoria, MEMORY] 1. a biography or biographical notice, usually written by a relative or personal friend of the subject 2. [pl.] an autobiography, usually a full or highly personal account 3. [pl.] a report or record of important events based on the writer’s personal observation, special knowledge, etc. 4. A report or record of a scholarly investigation, scientific study, etc. 5. [pl.] the record of the proceedings of a learned society

Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition.


memoir, n. a fiction designed to flatter the subject and to impress the reader.

With apologies to Ambrose Bierce


When writing your memoir, include the following:


v  Voice – voice is the personality and point of view that the writer wants to communicate to the reader. Voice is mostly communicated in the writer’s choice of words.


v  Select an event that you could describe in a short personal narrative (minimum of five paragraphs long). This may be an important event in your life or something fun that you think other people might find interesting. Use your senses to recall this event. Think of the colors, smells, and sounds. How did you feel at the time? Express your ideas in your voice – use the words that come naturally to you.


v  Use your graphic organizer to help you plan your memoir, and remember to emphasize the emotions. Also, remember to slow down the action with a lot of description on your selected section.


v  Write in some dialogue; this will help show what people are like and how they’re feeling.


v  Write your draft. Make your writing as clear as possible, buy don’t worry too much about correct spelling, punctuation, or grammar at this stage.


v  Revise your draft by checking your paragraphs, making sure you’ve indented your sentences. Re-read your story to check for proper sentences and appropriate word choice, spelling, grammar, etc… in this revising stage, you move sentences, paragraphs, etc… to make sure your writing is clear.


v  Edit your piece of writing by checking for last minute mistakes. Read it aloud to ensure that it has good flow. Re-write into good copy to be passed in.


Coming of Age

Personal Memoir ROUGH DRAFT


Remember, narrative writing is a true account of something that has happened in your life—it is your story.


Using all the pre-writing material you have created in the narrative writing technique worksheet packets, you are going to create a narrative essay based on a childhood event that you have learned something from.


1st person point of view


·        Beginning: Introduction and Rising Action

·        Middle: Climax

·        Ending: Falling Action and Ending



The Introduction:

(use the SETTING paragraph you wrote from your narrative writing packet)

1.      Setting regarding current state of mind.

2.     Flashback prompt:     I remember when…

a.     What are you like at first?


Then, the intro deals with dialogue between you and the other main character involved in this story as well as the setting. The audience must be introduced to the arising conflict. You must use said, but do not overuse it so please be sure to use dialogue tags similar to the ones listed below:

























































For example:

If we choose two words to use as descriptive dialogue tags, like spat and hacked, let’s see if we can create a scene where these tags would be appropriate to more accurately define the character.

Let’s say that a woman has just announced to her husband (Charlie) that she’s taken a lover and wants a divorce. He glares at her, and stomps toward her, waving his fist in the air.

“Who is he?” Charlie spat. “That cook at the diner?”

From using the word “spat,” we get a better picture of how angry Charlie is, and his words follow his nasty reaction.

Now let’s substitute the word “hacked” and see what type of response that evokes.

“Again?” Charlie hacked, reaching for his favorite bottle of scotch.

The word hacked used in this instance would imply a chronic smoker’s cough or a bark. Perhaps it’s his alcohol consumption that leaves him with a raspy voice. In either instance, aren’t those tags more effective than using said or asked? For example,

“Who is he?” Charlie asked. “That cook at the diner?


“Again?” Charlie said, reaching for his favorite bottle of scotch.

You don’t want to overuse tags, but in some scenes, a tag will heighten your character’s description and state of being.

Rising Action: What conflict do you face?

The rising action will start with a narration devoid of any direct dialogue. You will capture the escalating conflict/problem arising with the description of the 3 pivotal events that lead to the climax.


Conflict is the essence of a good story. It creates plot. The conflicts we encounter can usually be identified as one of four kinds.

Man versus Man
Conflict that pits one person against another.

Man versus Nature
A run-in with the forces of nature. On the one hand, it expresses the insignificance of a single human life in the cosmic scheme of things. On the other hand, it tests the limits of a person’s strength and will to live.

Man versus Society
The values and customs by which everyone else lives are being challenged. The character may come to an untimely end as a result of his or her own convictions. The character may, on the other hand, bring others around to a sympathetic point of view, or it may be decided that society was right after all.

Man versus Self
Internal conflict. Not all conflict involves other people. Sometimes people are their own worst enemies. An internal conflict is a good test of a character’s values. Does he give in to temptation or rise above it? Does he demand the most from himself or settle for something less? Does he even bother to struggle? The internal conflicts of a character and how they are resolved are good clues to the character’s inner strength.

You must have at least 2 conflicts covered.


**********************After the rising action you will write a 5 line poem. **********************


Line 1                   Write 1 word: your narrative theme (as represented in the intro)

Line 2                   Write 2 actions that you do to exemplify the theme

Line 3                  Write a 4-word phrase describing the lesson you learned—a life lesson

Line 4                  Write 2 actions that you did at the beginning of the narrative and at the end of it

Line 5                  Write 1 word that best captures how you changed from this event (cannot be the same word used in line 1


Climax: How are you affected?

You will begin the climax off with heavy dialogue, descriptive details. The climax should be the MOST INTERESTING part of your story.

·         This is when your story reaches a high point meaning when the conflict/problem is confronted. The audience should be able intrigued and wondering if the conflict will be resolved in the end.

·         The climax is the turning point of your narrative. It is the most dramatic or exciting moment.

·         The elements of a climax to a story can be a resolution, a decision, or recognition. You realize what has to be done, or understand what you had not seen before or finally make the decision to do whatever has to be done.

·         Basically, you will have changed in some way as a result.


Climax is not the big-ending, but the point of highest conflict for the main character. Commonly, the point at which the plot’s major obstacle is revealed, or how the major obstacle may be defeated is revealed. The flow of action launched by the inciting incident has built in rising action, and culminates at the climax.


Falling Action: What are you going to do to resolve the problem?

During the falling action, or resolution, which is the moment of reversal after the climax, the conflict between you and the other main character unravels, with you either winning or losing against him or her. The falling action might contain a moment of final suspense, during which the final outcome of the conflict is in doubt.


Falling action is events between climax and resolution. In a story that is anti-climactic the plot’s major obstacle resolves outside the protagonists actions, leaving only sub-plots.


ENDING: What’s the final outcome? What did you learn?

The ending is involves tying up all the loose ends to the point that you will end with an emotional impact instead of a complete conflict resolution meaning don’t carry on about WHAT you did to end things, fix things or change things. Instead, focus on the impact. It leaves your readers wanting more and if you do it right, you’ll give them enough information and feeling to let them carry the story on in their mind.

·         Ending with you experiencing an epiphany (a sudden understanding of something that inspires you) or discovering something is one way of achieving this result. Furthering this idea, is there a flaw embedded within the epiphany that you might have been unaware of at the time? (Remember this is a flashback!)

·         Is your character expecting a happy turn of events on the next page that never comes when the reader knows full well that it’s a one way street towards disaster?

·         As you’re aiming for an emotional high note to end on, your two best targets are hope and despair. They’re both make for huge targets and offer vast degrees of specificity, so do some exploring.


**********************After the ending you will write a post script. **********************


Post Script (P.S.):

The post script should include your final feelings on having written a piece about your coming of age memoir!



Blogging teacher tells how it is about students…

Blogging teacher blogging again 
By: CHRISTINA KRISTOFIC Bucks County Courier Times

The Central Bucks teacher who was suspended last week for complaining about her 
students defends herself online and in an interview. 

The Central Bucks East High School English teacher who got suspended last week 
for complaining about her students on a blog is at it again. 

And she is making no apologies for what she said - defending herself through her 
blog and in an interview with this newspaper Monday. 

"While I never in a million years would have guessed that this many people would 
ever see my words, and I didn't even intend them to, I stand by what I wrote and 
I think it's good that people are aware now," Natalie Munroe wrote on her blog 
Saturday morning. 

"There are serious problems with our education system today - with the way that 
schools and school district and students and parents take teachers who enter the 
education field full of life and hope and a desire to change the world and 
positively impact kids, and beat the life out of them and villainize them and 
blame them for everything - and those need to be brought to light. If this 
'scandal' opens the door for that conversation, so be it. Let that conversation 
begin. Stay tuned here." 

In the post, Munroe recounts what has happened since students discovered her 
blog on Feb. 8: She was escorted from the school the following day, suspended 
with pay and her blog became national news. Munroe and her attorney were 
interviewed on a nationally syndicated television program over the weekend. 

Munroe told the newspaper she started blogging again for the same reason she 
blogged before: "It's still an outlet to keep up with friends. I need to write. 
That's what I do. I don't think that, as a teacher, with or without the scandal 
surrounding, I should not be allowed to do something that everybody else is 
allowed to do." 

Administrators are investigating Munroe's blog - what she wrote and how much she 
wrote on school time. Superintendent N. Robert Laws said last week that the 
blogged complaints were "very egregious" and "certainly could result in 
termination." He declined to comment further Monday. 

Steve Rovner, Munroe's attorney, said the school district has "no basis for 
firing her." 

"The school district has its power and authority and protections through the 
law. They're not just a private employer. They can't hire and fire anyone at 
will," he said. 

"They do not have an Internet policy. They specifically do not have a 
no-blogging policy. She did not do anything wrong that would give them cause to 
fire her." 

Rovner said Munroe "was as responsible as she could be." He noted that she 
blogged only as Natalie M., and did not identify her school, administrators or 
students by name. She did include a photo with her blog. 

The media attention surrounding Munroe's blog has caused other teachers across 
the county to stop their blogs and deactivate their Facebook pages, Rovner said. 
"All that's doing is limiting interesting speech. Everyone who speaks has an 
audience and all these audiences have disappeared out of fear." 

Rovner told a TV reporter that he believes Munroe has a First Amendment case 
against the school district if she is fired. 

Munroe, a 30-year-old mother who is expecting her second child, started teaching 
in 2006. She has a bachelor's degree in English literature and a master's degree 
in education. She told the newspaper Monday that she worked in corporate real 
estate briefly before she became a teacher. 

"I love literature. I love reading. I love the written word and communication. I 
felt like I really wasn't using any of the awesome stuff that I knew and could 
bring to somebody else, working in corporate real estate," she said, explaining 
why she became a teacher. "I was really excited and enthusiastic when I got my 
first class." 

As she continued to teach, she said, it got a little less exciting. 

"It seemed like there was less and less accountability on students, and more and 
more having to explain what we do," she said. 

Munroe started her blog in September 2009. 

She said she has always loved writing and a friend encouraged her to try 

Munroe said she has a Facebook page that is set to "highly private" because she 
never wanted anything like this to happen. She never thought to post her 
thoughts on Facebook or password-protect her blog "because it is so hard to 

"There are thousands and thousands of blogs out there. I was just writing about 
the hum-drum of my life," she said. "Even if somebody stumbled upon it, who 
cares? I am nobody." 

She wrote 84 posts in a little more than a year. Most of them were about 
muffins, Food Network stars, her favorite movies, restaurants she thought were 
overrated, child-rearing and her pregnancy. She also wrote a few 
profanity-peppered rants about her administrators, co-workers and students. 

The posts people are talking about the most are more than a year old. 

Munroe said: "I really think that somebody dug it up on purpose to raise 
trouble. And now it has." 

In one post, written a month after she started the blog, Munroe called her 
students "rude, lazy, disengaged whiners." She fantasized in another post about 
telling their parents what she really thought about them. 

She created a list of "canned comments" she thought teachers should be able to 
choose from for report cards, some of which contained profanity. The list 
included: "rat-like," "dresses like a streetwalker," "frightfully dim," and 
"whiny, simpering grade-grubber with an unrealistically high perception of own 
ability level." 

Munroe claims in the blog post she wrote Saturday that the comments were 
"misunderstood." She explains: "At report card time, we are obliged to add a 
comment to supplement and/or expand on the letter grades. We are strongly 
encouraged to use the 'canned comments' option, which have a limited number of 
comments from which teachers may choose to explain students+ 

"So I took the opportunity for myself and the possible amusement of my friends - 
since I was content and expected for everything to stay low-key with only my 
seven pals reading my ramblings - to list those real behaviors that exist but 
that you just aren't allowed to write. (Parents don't want to hear the truth; 
administrators don't want us to share the truth.) 

"But regardless, they weren't comments meant to fit all students, and nor were 
they even for every student I wrote 'cooperative in class' about - I was just 
being pithy when I made that joke." 

Munroe says she does not hate her students, and actually likes some of them. 

"But the fact remains that every year, more and more, students are coming in 
less willing to work, to think, to cooperate. These are the students I was 
complaining about in my blog. The same way millions of Americans go home at the 
end of the day and complain about select coworkers or clients or other jerks 
they had to deal with, I came home and complained on my blog about those I had 
to deal with," she says. 

Munroe writes that her complaints were not about every student she taught, and 
suggests that any student who thinks the comments are directed at him or her has 
"a problem within themselves." 

"It feels like they're projecting their personal issues onto me," she said. "The 
truth hurts sometimes. Maybe instead of getting pissed off at the person 
pointing out the behavior, people need to examine their behavior and make a 

Munroe knows that many people have said she's "unprofessional" for writing what 
she did and in such a public way, but she believes she is still a professional. 

"I still went home every night and every weekend, and worked on lessons and 
tried to modify things, even though it upset me that I had to for people who 
didn't even want to meet me halfway," she said. "I still did it. I still was 
willing to talk to people after class. The job still got done. If people view 
the words as unprofessional, that doesn't make the person - the entire entity 
unprofessional. I'm still a good teacher." 

When a reporter asked Munroe if she wanted to return to her job at CB East, her 
attorney interrupted: "I don't know that she should answer that question at this 
point. I don't know that that's a viable option." 

Munroe said she has no plans for a future career. 

"This is sort of coming at me," she said. "A career change at this point is sort 
of like pulling a rug out from under me." 

Christina Kristofic can be reached at 215-345-3079 or 
Follow Christina on Twitter at 

Munroe's blog


“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” E. L. Doctorow quotes (American Author and Editor, b.1931)




“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”

 Anais Nin quotes (French born American Author of novels and short stories, 19031977)

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To Tweet or Not To Tweet..

That is the question. Whether tis nobler…err, not quite. So, I got to thinking about Twitter and Bambi came to mind with Owl’s great Twitterpated scene. I think that is kind of how I feel. “It could happen to you,” Owl says to Flower, Thumper and Bambi. The twitt is contagious but I’m not sure I’ve caught it yet. I must have a good immune system. Well, I must, because this is the second time my son’s had a bad case of Strep and I’m still running at full steam.

I say I can go either way…with the Tweet that is!


The Dreaded Collaboration


The initial response to collaborative work, regardless of objective…

The desired response for collaborative, especially focused on objective…


It is not a question of how well each process works, the question is how well they all work together.

 Lloyd Dobens quotes  SO TRUE

However, this one strikes my fancy and pretty much ties all of this collaboration, etc. together…

If you can laugh together, you can work together

 Robert Orben quotes (US magician and comedy writer, b. 1927)