Independent study project day 5 (Monday 4/11)

Comic book group

Get together with your group to talk about what you learned about superheroes and their alter egos. Why do we need an alter ego in order to have a successful superhero? Does this same premise extend to “bad guys”?

The next step is to start/finish reading your book so you can begin your final project. Depending on whether your final project is an essay or creating your own hero, I’ll have more specific stuff for you tomorrow.

Independent Research group:

Now that you’ve organized your research it’s time to outline. Follow my outline example (file: Making an Outline) to get moving on this. This is the last step before you start writing your essay.

Creative writing group:

Go over the 1, 2, and 3 levels of introspection found in non-fiction/memoir writing with Mr. Shulkin. Then for tomorrow read through the first half of “No Name Woman” (file: No Name Woman Kingston) and find two examples of each level. Write them down on a separate sheet of paper for review tomorrow.

Drama group:

Go over what you found when analyzing the “Streetcar” script. Begin working on your own adaptation.

Day 4 work

Comic Books/Superheroes

Read through an excerpt of Jeffrey Brown’s Black Superheroes, Milestone Comics and Their Fans about superheroes’ alter egos and secret identities. (Start at the second sentence of the first full paragraph.) On a sheet of paper (or typed) answer the following questions:

  1. Choose a superhero to study and explain how Brown’s analysis about our relationship with a superhero’s secret identity fits with your chosen hero (or doesn’t fit).
  2. What about heroes that don’t have secret identities? How could Brown’s ideas apply to them as well?


Independent Research group:

Now that you have your working thesis statement and five good sources (you still may need to find more!) it’s time to begin compiling evidence for an outline. Use the attached sheet to help your organize your good evidence into “chapters.”

Grouping evidence for outlining


Creative Writing group:

You’ll be working with me today as I explain to you Joseph Campbell’s idea of the monomyth. Once I’m done with that, take a look at this article by a writer who explains how you can fit this expansive hero journey into the form of a short story:

Mythpower in Short Stories

There’s a question to answer at the end for Monday.


Drama group

Look at the example script from the first few pages of “Streetcar Named Desire.” Read it not for content or story, but for structure. Answer the following questions:
-How does a script tell a story differently than a book or short story?
-What kind of information about characters or plot does Miller leave out of his script that you think would’ve appeared if this was written as a book?
-How does the author include descriptions of actor’s movements or what the scene and characters look like?

Day 3 work and Friday check-in reminder


Here’s today’s stuff and the stuff that’s due tomorrow:

Creative Writing group: 

You’ve now read four stories, each one where the plot has been spelled out for the reader either through narration (“The Conversation” and “How to Date a Brown Girl…”) or through character actions (“The Lottery” and In Cold Blood). Now, what about stories that are driven by dialogue? How do you develop characters who only reveal themselves through what they say?

Read through Ernest Hemingway’s very famous short story “Hills Like White Elephants – Ernest Hemingway,” which is a dialogue driven piece detailing a very passive-aggressive fight between an American couple waiting at a bar in a Spanish train station.

Once you’ve finished, cite specific pieces of dialogue – not the narration – which illustrate the couple’s frustration with each other. For each citation, explain what it shows about their personalities and/or the larger complex issue that they are arguing about. This should be at least half of a page.

For tomorrow’s check in, you should have prepared:
-Reflection #1 on “The Lottery”, “The Conversation” and In Cold Blood
-Your “ten minute” short story
-Your “How to Date a Brown Girl…” chart
-“Hills Like White Elephants” write up

Superhero group:

Day 4: As a group, discuss what you found out about the Hero’s Journey and it’s connection to a specific (super)hero. Where do the stages of the monomyth match up with the story of a famous hero?

Then, look at the reading about archetypes in stories. If the monomyth showed us a formula for structuring the cycle of a hero or a story, archetypes show us the basics of the character types we’re going to meet along the path of our hero’s journey. Work with your group to find examples of each character and story archetype. Mr. Shulkin will be there to talk over the stuff with you about half-way through class.

Here’s the pdf to work with: archetypesforliteraryanalysis

For Friday’s check-in:
-Archetypes sheet
-Writer’s Journey/Hero’s Journey comparison to a hero
-Connecting modern superhero’s to old legends/myths/folktales
-Answering the question “Where does Batman come from?” based on your reading from Supergods

Independent Research project:

Keep on truckin’. For tomorrow’s check-in:
-Working thesis statement
-The completed “reverse engineer a thesis” worksheet
-First reflection about your previous experiences writing research essays and how this one is going so far
-An annotated bibliography for two academic sources
-A total of five sources gathered (at least two from academic journals)

Drama group:

Once you’ve finished adapting “How to Date…” into a 1.5 script, read through Lindsay Price’s “Adapting a Play” (adapting-a-play). Write a one page reflection taking Price’s ideas and comparing them to your final product. Answer these questions:
-What did you do that Price says to do, and what did you do that she says not to do?
-Pick out three pieces of advice or quotes from Price that you will keep in mind when you adapt your own story into a script later on

For tomorrow’s check in:
-A completed adaptation of “How to Date…” for the stage (about 1.5 pages)
-Your one page reflection of Price’s “Adapting a Play”

Superhero/Comic book group

Day 3: The Hero’s Journey

Today, I want you to study the idea of the monomyth, a theory put forward by Joseph Campbell about the path of a hero that’s found in stories throughout human history.

Read pages 7 – 20 of Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, which summarizes Campbell’s idea and relates it to a number of modern (or fairly modern) movies.

When you’re done reading, pick a superhero you’re studying (Batman, Superman, Iron Man, etc.) and relate 8 of Vogler’s/Campbell’s 12 stages to this superhero. I’m talking about generally – don’t pick a specific episode of a TV show, or a specific issue of comic, that’s going to be too little information to work with. A full-length movie would would, or the trajectory of a superhero’s life are better applied to this formula. Write it up for discussion on Thursday.

You can find a PDF of the book for today/tonight here:

Good luck!

Senior projects classwork day 1

Superhero group: 

Objective: Understand how modern superheroes come straight out of old folklore – some dating back thousands of years.

Classwork: See the connections between these modern superheroes and the folklore/legends and mythology that they came from. Go to this link for the material:

-John Henry/Steel (ask Shulkin for this one)
-Golem & The Hulk/The Thing
-Hippolyta/Amazons & Wonder Woman

Homework: Now that we’ve studied superheroes with clear connections to old stories, what about popular heroes without a clear connection to history? We’ll use Batman as an example.
-Read the Supergods selection on Batman and answer this one question: where does Batman come from? Use evidence from the source text as well as things you know from the comics, movies, tv shows, etc. This should be about a page due Monday.

Creative Writing group:

Read through short pieces of fiction and non-fiction, keeping in mind these central questions:

-What is the purpose of fiction? Why are people attracted to it?

-What is the purpose of non-fiction? Why are people attracted to it?

-What do these pieces of “good writing” all have in common, even if they seem very different from one another?

Pieces to read:
-“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson (fiction)
-“In Cold Blood” excerpt by Truman Capote (non-fiction)
-“The Conversation” by Jonathan Mitchell, Ed Herbstman and Melanie Hoopes
(Listen here: and follow along with a transcript here: (Scroll down))

Reflection #1 – For Monday, answer the questions above. Generally speaking, why are these pieces “successful” in terms of what fiction and non-fiction should do, and how can any parts of these pieces inform your own writing for the next month?


Independent project rubrics

Hi seniors,

Here are the rubrics for the four independent research tracks. Choose which one you’ll want to study/be a part of for the next month.

Creative writing syllabus and calendar
Drama syllabus and calendar
Independent research group syllabus and calendar
Superheroes group syllabus and calendar

Remember, they’re set up so they will have about the same amount of work, so choose based on what you’re interested in, not in what you think will be easiest. This is a month centered around your interests – take advantage!

Seniors: Choose your last assignment

For those of you that missed class today, we chose our last unit of study before we begin your gateways at the beginning of May. Your options came from your cards you gave me as we wrapped up our discussion on V for Vendetta about a week ago.

These are the four categories:
-Creative writing
-Comic book/superhero study
-Independent research project/essay

Right now, I don’t really have many guidelines for these, which is why I had people in groups to figure out what this means for the next month. As I said in class today, choose the group you want to be in based on what interests you, not what you think will have more/less work or whether or not you want to work alone or in a group. All groups will have the same amount of work, and all groups will allow for independent or group final projects.

For Monday, choose your group and answer these questions: Project proposals and goals.  I know you don’t have all the info in front of you, but I’ll need your initial input to help me figure out how to set this up. Hand it to me on Monday.