Friday, September 29, 2006

The Rock

The rock from the thirty mile fire reminds me to be awake every day. It says, we don’t know how much time we have. It helps me see students as flesh and blood. Finally, it is a symbol of a chapter in my life ending.

During the summer of 2001, my wife and I traveled to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. The weather was miserably hot. The room we stayed in overlooked a beautiful bay, but had no air conditioning. The water in the ocean was warm. The nights were warm. There was nothing to do but sit around being hot. It sucked. So we rearranged our flight and came home several days early. Just before we left Mexico, I stopped in to check my email at an internet café. The café was in the downtown of a small tourist/fishing village on the coast of Mexico. As I sat down at the computer, I could see and smell the fish they were weighing and cleaning. Once I got logged in, I saw a message from the community college near my hometown offering me a job. I had been teaching for three years at West Valley High School and felt perfectly suited for the job. It was my first job. I had AP students for their entire senior year in high school for 2 of my 4 classes. Over the course of the year, I came to know the students well. It was a great job and one I didn’t leave easily, but by the time we’d come home, I was sure I wanted to take the YVCC job.

We arrived back in Selah, where it was also brutally hot. Amy still had some vacation left and so we decided to spend the last weekend in a quaint little town north of Seattle called La Conner. But first, we came home and unpacked. Then we repacked for our second, shorter trip. On our way out of town, we stopped by my parents’ house to share the good news about the job. When we walked in the door, I saw Karen’s face on the tv in my mom’s kitchen. Then Jessica’s. Then Devin’s. The sound was down, but the captions said they had all died fighting a fire near Winthrop. I know those people, I told my wife. I just saw two of them walk past me on their way out of their last day of their senior years. I’d coached a third victim in 6th grade Y-league basketball.

When we got back from La Conner, the news of the fire was all over the papers, still. It dominated the conversation in Yakima and made national news. I was saddened by their deaths and felt terrible that I wouldn’t be there at West Valley for the first day of class. I wouldn’t be able to talk with fellow teachers, but mostly I was upset that I couldn’t help their friends process the event.

Then, September 11th happened. While the events of 9/11 dominated the news, eliminating the story of the fire almost entirely, many people hadn’t full processed the tragic loss of these young people. The world went on, for some before we were ready to let go.

I taught that first year at YVCC in a fog. By the end of the second year, I still was not comfortable in my new position. At the end of the third year at YVCC, I was invited to go for spring break to a cabin near Winthrop. I had never considered driving to see the fire site directly from Yakima, it’s a 4 and a half hour drive, but since I was so close, I thought I’d go by myself to see the memorial the forest service had placed at the scene of the event.

Just past Winthrop there was a sign that said, Thirty Mile Creek Road. For the first ten or so miles, there were cars and houses, but after that, it spread out a lot. I hardly saw anybody. It was a beautiful spring day. After a half hour drive, I came the fire line. The trees were still bare. The ground was still black. Here and there, some grasses were growing up through the wreckage, but the progress of recovery was not as far along as I’d imagined it to be. I was surprised when after less than a mile into the burn, I came to the memorial. The thing that struck me was how close they were to living. The fire had cut off their exit and they’d had to park their van and scamper either up on the rocks or deploy their tents in the middle of the road. Some took refuge in the sand middle of the river. Those that chose the slope, Karen, Devin, and Tom their leader, didn’t make it.

The second thing that struck me was how present they all felt. There was a small series of markers for the four that died. Up the rock slope a bit, some people had placed mementos. I took my journal and sat on that rock slide and just looked around. The creek was peaceful enough. The fire that they had been fighting had scorched the forrest for as far as I could see, going north. Going south, as I said, hardly at all. Green trees all over the hills on one side of me and wasteland on the other side.

I looked down at the rocks I was sitting on and picked one up. It was mostly white with black flecks in it. Or black with white flecks in it. I put in the palm of my hand and closed my fingers around it’s edges and sat there listening and looking around.

I stuffed it in my pocket and drove back to the cabin with the window down and music playing. I didn’t say much when I got back. I told my wife and friends where I’d been and we went on with our day.

When I got home, I took the rock with me to YVCC and put it on a shelf over my desk. When I look at it now, I am reminded to be grateful for each day. I am reminded that the students I teach are people with histories, families, lives outside of school and all of our time is short. I am reminded that the students sitting in front of me today, might not be there tomorrow. That I might not be there tomorrow. But mostly, when I pick the rock up and bring it to class, I am reminded of Karen, Jessica and Devin.

The Huckster

Benita Long

When I was a teen-age girl, I learned my family included a lot more than just humans, like my family pet Huckleberry. Close friends of the family asked us, “Hey you guys want a puppy?” She was the cutest mutt I had ever seen. She had soft golden hair and these deep dark eyes you could get lost in. The previous owner, Valeta, said they reminded her of huckleberries, thus her name Huckleberry. Soon she was known as “The Huckster.”

In the morning she and mom would see us off. Unlike our working mother, Huckleberry would greet us when we returned from school. We could always count on her to wait for us at the end of our driveway, which she took upon herself to designate as her spot. Right there by the tree she posted up, her dog scent was our freedom from the classroom. The smell of outdoors, ponds, grape fields, and farm animals next door was a wonderful smell after a hard days work in class.

She wasn’t a professionally trained dog but listened to us kids. She also wasn’t a mean dog but protected us when we were in danger of any type. We all shared a love for singing and dancing. Whenever any of us would start up in a goofy, fun way, she would chime in eagerly. Huckleberry was a good dancer and her singing was about as tolerable as my own.
After a day of errands, shopping or just being gone from the house all day, we could see her excitement from the car. At just the sight of the car she would be singing, dancing, hopping and twisting. We wouldn’t even be in the driveway yet and she’d be in her spot just going crazy. She barked only after we got out of the car as if to say, “Where were you? What took you so long?” She liked to sniff us all before we got near the front door just like she was inspecting us closely. Who knows what she was looking for, but I know that when I came home with an injury from a basketball game, she inspected me a little longer than usual.

“The Huckster” was a valued family member and proved her loyalty on August 27, 1997, when seven search and rescue members, and a helicopter, the Tribal police officers, Sheriff’s department, family members, friends and volunteers from the area couldn’t find my little brother and first cousin when they were missing. After three and a half days of searching the bighearted volunteers walked up with expressions of shame and failure on their faces. I watched my Huckleberry’s behavior change. She was behaving weird and anxious which was very annoying. When I would go look down the canal road for them myself, she would come with me and always stop at one particular area.

Behind our house there was this dirt road which ran along side the farmer’s irrigation canal. It went all the way up to an irrigation ditch which drained into the canal from about twenty feet up in the air, we called it “The Falls.” We were kids and didn’t know any better so we would play, swim and float down from our swimming area at the falls to where our tree was at. On the other side of the dirt road were the ponds. While swimming or just wandering around, I could always smell the sweet grapes in the summertime, and the oil from the noisy asphalt company. I have many good memories there.

This area she would stop at was about eight feet downward from the road. Huckleberry would run down it and wade in the water. The canal was almost twelve feet across and with water in it was about four feet deep. She would swim in circles barking, it sounded like a sad cry. She kept getting in the rescue team’s way. When they would near that particular area, she would just not move from that spot. Then finally a diver investigated her stubborn stance and it was then and there they found our missing family members’ lifeless bodies.

After their traditional funeral was done, Huckleberry wasn’t a worrying dog no more. Huckleberry did share the heavy heart of loss with the rest of her family members. We noticed how sad and lifeless she became. Not only did we lose the kids, but she lost her kids too. She hardly ate and hardly ever played. I don’t remember seeing her sing or dance anymore. I missed her annoying behaviors. My family missed our Huckleberry. She was now a “waiting dog,” waiting for her kids to come home from the last activity they left to go do.
Then one day we came home and found her lying on her side, in her spot where she would dance and sing when “all” her kids would come home. All of us. I got out of the car walked over to scratch her tummy and said, “Hello Huckster, it’s just me.” Only this time I patted her stiff body and realized she wasn’t waiting for them to come home to her, she was waiting to go home to them. One of the most important lessons in life I ever learned was from “The Huckster.” She taught me that you cannot put limitations on the true meaning of family.

English 70 Day 10, Friday, Lab

1. Let’s try to register here.

2. Then try this exercise.

4. Now, your turn

a. Write
b. Ask me questions
c. Ask others questions
d. Don’t waste time

5. No ENGLISH class on Monday
6. Rough Drafts, Typed, 3 pages max, will be due BOP Tuesday.
a. Bring 4 copies.
b. We will peer edit Tues/Wed and work on intro/conclusions and organization Thursday/Friday.
c. Your final drafts are due Monday, October 9th.
The Traits

A Definition: Qualities that are noticeable to others and help us define whether the writing was strong or not

Ideas: The heart of the message; the main point or storyline; clear and visible; detailed; original thinking;

Organization: The skeleton, logical effective sequence; a good intro and sense of closure.

Voice: Evidence of the person behind the message; passion, energy, awareness of audience, cares about the topic; gets a response from reader
Word Choice: the vocabulary; the right word in the right place; original; aware of reader’s abilities; not for posers.

Sentence Fluency: The rhythm and flow; how it sounds; smooth, reads easy; varied sentence openings, lengths and structure

Conventions: the precision of the writing; attention to the details, including grammar, spelling, punctuation, MLA format

Thursday, September 28, 2006

English 70 Lesson Plan Day 9

1. Least Favorite Object Story? Python, Carolina,
a. What is the main point?
b. Is this why we don’t care for the story?

2. Basics of a good Thesis Statement
a. Fits the size of the assignment:
b. Single Main Point
c. Specific
d. It is something you can show, explain, or prove
e. It is a forceful statement written with confidence

3. So far: Thesis statement and early plan
4. Today: Decide whether to write on the animal or object
i. Use the three questions: RW p 20
1. Does it interest me?
2. Can I say something about it?
3. Is it specific?

ii. Go a bit further (Ideas and Content handout)
1. Is the main idea of the story clear to me?
2. Is it an original idea, or an original way of seeing something?
3. Will it interest my audience?
4. Can I see what the organization should be?

5. Today part two, back to Generating Ideas
a. Idea generating:
i. Listing
ii. Questions
iii. Freewriting
iv. Read
v. Journal
vi. Discussion*
vii. Web*

6. Discussion
a. In groups of four, what are you planning on writing about?
b. Read your thesis statements to each other and then explain what you’re going to write about—three minutes.
c. What do your peers sound most interested in?
d. Now, others ask you questions and you WRITE THEM DOWN AS FAST AS YOU CAN.
i. These may be things you have overlooked that we need.

7. Web
a. If there’s time.
i. Main idea in the center.
ii. Primary supporting points on the spokes. (3?)
iii. Secondary supporting points off those.

8. Homework
a. Rough Draft Due Tuesday.
b. Bring disk/drive to lab tomorrow.
c. Commit to a topic.
d. Spend some more time generating ideas for that topic tonight
e. You are going to have time to work on this in class after a short exercise. A good time to ask me questions one on one, too.

EX: Object Essay outline

THESIS: The rock from the thirty mile fire reminds me to be awake every day. It says, we don’t know how much time we have. It helps me see students as flesh and blood. Finally, it is a symbol of a chapter in my life ending.

I. Explain what happened to the students
II. Explain Where I was when it happened
i. Mexico
ii. YVCC
iii. 9/11, later
III. Explain how I knew the students
IV. Explain how and where I got the rock.
V. So, what do I think of when I see the rock?
a. Every day
b. Students are people
c. High school teaching career
Day 8 Wednesday

English 70 Lesson Plan Day 8

1. Which is your favorite animals story from ITMFWG? What do you like, specifically, about the story?

2. Favorite Animal Stories
a. Vote.
b. What is their main point

3. Narrowed Topic
a. Page 31
b. Practice 1 as a class
4. Basics of a good Thesis Statement
a. Fits the size of the assignment:
i. Practice 3
1. Not too Broad/Narrow
ii. Practice 4 in groups
b. Single Main Point
i. Practice 5 in groups
c. Specific
i. Practice 6 in groups.
d. It is something you can show, explain, or prove
e. It is a forceful statement written with confidence

5. My notes on thesis statements
a. Topic + Main Idea
b. Parking +______________
c. Iraq + ________________
d. Smoking on campus + _____________________
e. This object +_______________________
f. This animal +______________________

6. Use page 44 first then
a. Write your thesis statement on the board
i. What needs to be revised?

7. Homework
a. Revise thesis statement if needed
b. List your support for your thesis

EX: Object Essay outline

THESIS: The rock from the thirty mile fire reminds me to appreciate every day. It also reminds me that students are flesh and blood people. Finally, it has become a reminder of my high school teaching career.
I. Explain what happened to the students
a. Where I was when it happened
i. Mexico
ii. YVCC
iii. 9/11, later
II. Explain how I knew the students
III. Explain how and where I got the rock.
IV. Conclusions (are three too many?)
a. Every day
b. Students are people
c. High school teaching career

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Day 7 Tuesday

English 70 Lesson Plan Day 7 Tuesday

  • Six Traits Quiz

  • H/O on Ideas/Content and Organization

  • W/overheads

  • ITMFWG Animals Favorites

  • Chapter 2

  • Practice 1

  • Listing/Brainstorming

  • Animals

  • Pets list already done

  • Wild, Zoo, Farm, Fair, Friends, Relatives

  • Freewriting

  • Animals

  • Pick one from the list and go for 10 minutes

  • Questioning

  • Five W’s + How

  • Animals

  • Objects

  • Discussion

  • At your tables

  • Clustering/Mapping

  • 3 Questions to ask of your topic

  • Does it interest me?

  • Can I say something about it?

  • Is it specific?

  • AND—

  • What is the main point?

Homework:  Ch. 3 in RW
     Read 31-45
Do Practice 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and chapter review
Plus:  A thesis sentence for an animal essay and a thesis statement for an object essay
English 70 Lesson Plan Day 6

1. Journal: If your house was filling up with water, what would you take, other than photo albums or money? What can’t be replaced?
2. No late work, unless arranged prior to class, and sometimes not then.
3. Reset:
a. Traits of a good student
b. Traits of a good teacher
c. Traits of good writing
i. Six Traits
1. Ideas/Content
2. Organization
3. Word Choice
4. Voice
5. Sentence Fluency
6. Conventions

4. Quiz Objects
5. Correct quiz/objects
6. Essay one assignment—H/O
a. Focus on Ideas/Content + Organization

7. The Writing Process
a. Generate Ideas
b. Plan
c. Draft
d. Revise
e. Edit
f. Present final draft

8. Generate Ideas
1. Animals/Objects

9. Quiz Tomorrow over Six Traits
a. H/O Study Guide

Friday, September 22, 2006

Day 5

English 70 Fall 06
Lesson Plan Day 5

  • Logging on

  • Be patient


  • Names and faces quiz

  • English Department needs your help

  • See cover sheet

  • 25 Minutes

  • It’s perfect for us

  • Go.

  • Homework.  Read ITMFWG all of the “Objects” chapter

  • Quiz Monday on ITMFWG.

Day 4

English 70 Lesson Plan Day 4

  1. Journal:  What is the best thing you’ve ever read?  Best story, magazine, article, comic book, sacred text, novel, play, poem, card or letter!, email, text message?

  1. Traits of good writing on one board.

  1. Traits of a good teacher/student. Agreed?

  1. Six Traits defined

  1. Fit our traits under the six traits

  1. Look at a story for traits, overall

  1. Show outline of class using the traits

Homework:Names and Faces, quiz tomorrow.  Meet in LAB
Six Traits quiz next week
Quiz Monday covering ITMFWG and RW so far
Read ITMFWG to end of “Animals” section

Day 3

English 70 Lesson Plan 3

  1. Journal:  read from Yesterday, Why are you here?

  • What are your goals for the rest of the week?

  • What are your goals for the rest of the quarter?

  • What are your goals at YVCC?

  1. Traits of good teacher

  • Chapter Review

  • Four Basics of Good Writing

  • Audience

  • Purpose

  • Main Point

  • Support for that main point

  1. Traits of good writing

  • Five Steps in the Writing Process (plus one)

  • Generate Ideas

  • Plan

  • Draft

  • Revise

  • Edit

  • Publish/Present

  1. Names and Faces

  2. Traits of good writing H/I


Names and Faces
Read ITMFWG pages_____________ to __________________.

Day 2

English 70 Lesson Plan 2

  • Why are you at YVCC?

  • Don’t say, to become a nurse/teacher/rad tech.  

  • Why are you really here?

  1. Take pictures.

  1. Assumptions about me.

  1. Questions about the class.

  1. Five “course basics” RW

  • Traits

  •        Good Student

  • Good Teacher

  • Homework

  •        read RW pages 9-18 and     complete Chapter Review

  • Traits of Good Writing.

  •        Buy books

English 70 Day 1

English 70 Day 1

  1. Learning begins with questions.

  • Assumptions

  • Right

  • Class

  • Teacher

  • Questions

  • Left

  • Class

  • Teacher

  1. Syllabus

  2. Rewrite questions about the class

  1. Traits of a good teacher

  2. Traits of a good student

  3. Traits of good writing

Complete Traits list
Read Real Writing 3-7


English Composition 70: Fall 2006
Dan Peters, Instructor ( 574-6800 ext 3194
Office hours: 720-820, Anthon English Dept.

Course Description:
Students in English 070 will learn to write unified, coherent, short compositions, following standard conventions of spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  They will base their writing on a reading and understanding of basic texts, enhanced by active participation in class discussions.

ASSET placement score: 33-38.

Course Outcomes:
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to

  1. Use appropriate strategies to write unified, coherent, short compositions.

  2. Read and articulate an understanding of a text that uses conversational vocabulary, an easily recognizable organizational pattern, and basic sentence structure.

Students will have the opportunity to practice the following Abilities as they meet course objectives:  Analytical Reasoning (AR) and Communication (C).

Course Objectives:                                                         

During the course students will

  1. Participate in class discussions.

  2. Summarize and paraphrase a text.

  3. Generate ideas.

  4. Organize ideas.

  5. Write unified paragraphs.

  6. Write rough drafts.

  7. Revise rough drafts.

  8. Edit and proofread drafts, practicing conventions of spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

  9. Demonstrate the ability to read critically:  summarize and paraphrase, question, and analyze a text.

  10. Practice objectives 1-9 in in-class writing.

The Job
  • Four complete assignment sequences.  

  • These sequences will include prewriting activities, rough drafts and second drafts.

  • Real Writing exercises in book and on line.

  • Daily Journal.

  • Come ready for class every day

  • Also…

  • Reading and commenting on students' papers.

  • Readings as assigned.

  • Various quizzes and assignments, as needed.
The Materials
  1. Real Writing, 3e, Anker

  2. I Thought My Father Was God, Auster

  3. Floppy disk, PC/IBM formatted

  4. Three Ring Binder

  5. Spiral bound notebook

  6. A good college-level dictionary

  7. Highlighter pens

  8. Mini stapler

  9. Blue & black ink pens

The Grades
In order to move to 075, you need to earn a grade of Satisfactory (S) in English 070.

A Credit (Cr) grade will be given to students who are progressing in their skills but may need more time to be ready to write at the college level.  

A No-Credit (NC) grade will be given to students who are not progressing, who have not completed the assigned work or who have not regularly attended class.Your grade will be broken into two distinct parts:

  1. The first will be for all the work you do prior to a second draft (D2).  
In order to move to 075, you will need to average 70% on these assignments.

  1. The second part of your grade is your second drafts (D2).  

These are polished essays that I will read, give comments on and score from 0-6.  (see attached for grading rubric).  In order to move to 075, your scores for your second drafts must average 4 or better.

The Details

  1. All assignments are due on the date assigned. Late work will not be accepted.  If you wish to have an extension of the deadline for any reason, you must contact me before the essay is due (specifically, before class begins on the due date. Otherwise, they will be considered late.  

  1. Essays are required to be between 2-3 pages long, double-spaced, in a normal sized (10-12 point) font or type comparable to Times New Roman.  Essays not meeting the minimum length requirement, whether through failure to complete 2 pages, use of a larger than normal font, or large margins, will have a reduced grade. Failing to complete 2 pages by a line or two won't affect your grade, but stopping your essay on the middle of page 2 will. Works Cited pages, graphics, charts, etc. do not count toward the minimum page requirement.

  2. All essays must be typed or printed on a computer printer.

  3. Essays must be typed in MLA format: one inch margins on all sides, with your name and page number in the top right hand corner. Text should be double-spaced. You must put your name and section number on either the first page of the essay or on a title page

  1. Keep a HARD COPY of your essay, so that you will have a back-up in case of loss, disk crash, etc. Anyone working on computer should have a back-up copy of his/her essay on disk.

The Big Six
Ideas and Content
Word Choice
Sentence Fluency

Don’t Cheat Yourself

Any work that has been plagiarized will be given a zero and will not be eligible resubmission.  
Do the best that you can with what you have.  
Be Here, Now

If you miss 5 classes for any reason, the best grade you can receive will be CR.

If you miss 7 classes for any reason you will be withdrawn from the class.

Lean in…

Course Adaptation:If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share, or  if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please talk with me as soon as possible.