American Lit 10/26 – “Rugged Individualism”

Take a look at the sources below. After you’ve read/watched them, answer the following two questions w/ evidence. This should be at least a page’s worth of writing.

  1. Is the “rugged individual” archetype available to all? If not, why not? Who (or what) is missing? Explain.
  2. Watch/read Obama’s speech about healthcare and his invocation of the term “rugged individualism.” After what we’ve learned about collectivism and what you’ve pieced together about “rugged individualism,” is Obama’s use of the phrase in this context a contradiction? Can we be rugged individuals in a collectivist society?

Here are your sources:

#1 – Theme song and lyrics from “Daniel Boone” TV show (1964), a fictionalized version of the life of frontiersman Daniel Boone (1734 – 1820).

Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes, a big man!
With an eye like an eagle
And as tall as a mountain was he!

Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes, a big man!
He was brave, he was fearless
And as tough as a mighty oak tree!

From the coonskin cap on the top of ol’ Dan
To the heel of his rawhide shoe;
The rippin’est, roarin’est, fightin’est man
The frontier ever knew!

Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes, a big man!
And he fought for America
To make all Americans free!

What a boon, what a do-er,
What a dream come-a true-er was he!

Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes, a big man!
With a whoop and a holler
He could mow down a forest of trees.

With a knife and a gun he never did fail
There was nothin’ he could not tame.
He blazed a big wide liberty trail
Through history’s hall of fame.

Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes, a big man!
With a dream of a country
That would always forever be free.

#2 – Opening scene of “There Will Be Blood” (2007), a movie about a young oil prospector who finds oil below a small town and becomes a rich tycoon. Set in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

#3 – Ending of the movie “Shane” (1953), set in the 1860s.

#4 – “First Blood” (1982). Loner Vietnam veteran John Rambo drifts into a small Pacific Northwest town called Hope, Washington in the early 1970s.

#5 – Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968) “The Other America” speech, as part of his “Poor People’s Campaign”

And I was about to say that to free, to have freed the negro from slavery without doing anything to get him started in life on a sound economic footing, it was almost like freeing a man who had been in prison many years and you had discovered that he was unjustly convicted of, that he was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted and you go up to him and say now you’re free, but you don’t give him any bus fare to get to town or you don’t give him any money to buy some clothes to put on his back or to get started in life again. Every code of jurisprudence would rise up against it. This is the very thing that happened to the black man in America. And then when we look at it even deeper than this, it becomes more ironic. We’re reaping the harvest of this failure today. While America refused to do anything for the black man at that point, during that very period, the nation, through an act of Congress, was giving away millions of acres of land in the west and the mid-west, which meant that it was willing to under gird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor. Not only did they give the land, they built land grant colleges for them to learn how to farm. Not only that it provided county agents to further their expertise in farming and went beyond this and came to the point of providing low interest rates for these persons so that they could mechanize their farms, and today many of these persons are being paid millions of dollars a year in federal subsidies not to farm and these are so often the very people saying to the black man that he must lift himself by his own bootstraps. I can never think … Senator Eastland, incidentally, who says this all the time gets a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars a year, not to farm on various areas of his plantation down in Mississippi. And yet he feels that we must do everything for ourselves. Well that appears to me to be a kind of socialism for the rich and rugged hard individualistic capitalism for the poor.

#6 – Barack Obama (2011?)

The rugged individualism that defines America has always been bound by a set of shared values; an enduring sense that we are in this together. That America is not a place where we simply ignore the poor or turn away from the sick. It’s a place sustained by the idea that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper. That we have an obligation to put ourselves in our neighbor’s shoes, and to see the common humanity in each other.

So after nearly a century of talk, after decades of trying, after a year of sustained debate, we finally made health care reform a reality for America.

And despite the constant doom and gloom predictions, the unending chicken little warnings that somehow making health insurance fair and easier to buy would lend to the end of freedom, the end of the American way of life, lo and behold it did not happen, none of this came to pass. In fact, in a lot of ways the Affordable Care Act worked out better than some of us anticipated.


Freshmen 10/19 – Going to the underworld

Hi 9th graders,

Use this post to guide your class today.

First, in your notebook, take 5 mins to write about a story you know where a character has to journey to the underworld (or hell) for some reason. Explain who they are, why they go and what happens to them when they’re down there.

We’ll discuss what you wrote as a class.

Then, in your group watch the following three clips. After each clip, try to fill out a portion of the left side of the sheet Mr. Shulkin gave you.

1) Lord of the Rings:

2) Orpheus and Eurydice

3) Star Wars

Superheroes 10/17 – God Loves, Man Kills pdf

Hi guys,

Here’s the pdf to read “God Loves, Man Kills.” god-loves-man-kills-pdf


Eventually you and your group will be presenting on how your literary theory lens applies to X-Men and GLMK. Your presentation will have four parts:

-A description/definition of the lens
-How the lens applies to the X-Men in general
-How the lens applies specifically to God Loves, Man Kills and finally
-Your conclusion

I’d like to have the presentations ready for next Thursday and Friday.

For today:

  1. Before reading GLMK with your group, read through your explainer on your literary theory lens. Ask Mr. Shulkin/Mr. Boyar for any clarifications you might need.
  2. Read part one of GLMK with your group. As you go, look for quotes/picture/ideas that you can analyze or look at through your lens.
  3. Make a plan with your group in terms of reading between now and Thursday. How far will you read? Who’s looking for what aspects of your presentation?

Superheroes 10/16 – Plato’s ring allegory

We’re still talking about allegory. Today we read Plato’s allegory about the ring of Gyges. Before reading we went over four reading strategies to use when reading something dense and difficult:

1) Chunk and summarize

Draw lines after paragraphs (or groups of short paragraphs) and as you read pause to write a short summary in the margins after each chunk

2) Bracket and dig

If/when you get stuck, embrace the confusion. Mark what section lost you with [brackets] and figure out what the problem is. Do you not understand some of the words? Is the tone different than before? Is someone else speaking and you missed the quotation marks? Is the sentence really long and you’re having trouble following their thoughts?

3) Highlighting and underlining

Sometimes just the act of moving or doing something active helps us focus. Use a highlighter (or pen) to go over the paper. Don’t worry so much about what you’re underlining, but rather why you are underlining (an interesting sentence or idea, a word or phrase you like, something unexpected).

4) Organize key terms

Skim the document the first time and figure out what ideas or words are most important. Put them in boxes on a sheet of paper, and as you come across them in the reading fill in your boxes with quotes/ideas/summaries/questions

For tomorrow, answer these three questions:

  1. What is the story of the ring an allegory for?
  2. Do you agree with Plato’s characterizations of human nature?
  3. Which reading strategy did you choose, and how helpful was it?

Here’s the text: Plato’s ring

American Lit 10/10 – Class work

Hi everyone,

I’m out all day at a meeting, but remember, there’s still stuff for you guys to do. By Thursday, you need to have read through chapter 39 of Huck Finn.

For Friday, your writing on the n-word in Huck Finn is due. Here’s the rubric and the guiding question you need to follow. Like all formal writing, this should have a thesis statement and evidence from at least two texts: N word writing assignment

Good luck!

APSEM 10/10 – Classwork

Hi everyone,

I’m out today at an AP training. Here’s what I’d like to you do today/have done for Thursday:

Thank you for reading “A Most American Terrorist” by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah. It’s a difficult but important story to wrestle with.

For class today, I’d like you to do the following:

1) Does Kaadzi Ghansah have an argument in here? (Remember, the argument is in the conclusion as well as the thesis/beginning.) Choose three claims of hers and explain whether or not they support an argument.

2) Review the story and identify the perspectives (lens + angle) Kaadzi Ghansah uses in order to try to make sense of this tragedy. Give a couple examples of how different perspectives/lenses “are in conversation with one another.” In other words, where does one claim from one perspective connect with a claim from another perspective?

3) Read or listen to “How One Man Convinced 200 Klu Klux Klan Members to Give Up Their Robes” by Dwane Brown:

After reading, come up with three research questions related to both or either of these stories. Can you phrase those questions in a way that you could research them and provide solutions? (We will revisit/revise your questions in class on Thursday.)

APSEM 10/5 – Weekend reading


This weekend, please read “A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylan Roof.”

Read it and mark it up as best you can (digitally or hard copy). Look for arguments when there are some, or further questions you’d ask, or even try to infer what questions the reporter was asking as she wrote specific sections. You’ll be working with it on Tuesday.

Just a warning, it’s a tough read. Go slow if you need to.