“American” Essay Do-Over

A few weeks ago you were asked to write an essay defining what it means to be American.  Many of you struggled with this, producing circular arguments about how it means “freedom” and “freedom” means America.  Many of you sounded exactly like a commentator from CNN or FOX news, sort of listing out political talking points, but again, without specific details as they relate to you on a daily basis.  Defining what it means to be “American” is a large, abstract concept, so I want to attack it from another angle this time.

You should all start new today.

Pretend Sparta High School is getting another group of international exchange students (many of you might remember Lo from two years ago).  Write a letter to these incoming students telling them about American culture and, specifically, about the culture of folk who live in the Sparta, IL. area.  What do high school students from another country need to know about the culture of folk in this area?

Follow block letter format (start with your address, give the date, then use the school’s address for the sender’s address – go to the Sparta High School website or look in your agenda books.  Make up a fake name for the person you are writing to).  It should be 3-5 paragraphs in length.

These letters are a new grade in the gradebook and are worth 50 points.  Due to the sub at the end of the hour.  Make sure you sign your letters in ink before you turn them in.

Folk who want to revise their first essay for a higher grade may do so – those revisions will be due by Parent-Teacher conference time in October.  You must submit your original with the revision.


Bring “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” to life

Working alone or in pairs, students will choose a section of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” to perform to the class.  Students worked on Tuesday 09/16 generating ideas.  They will have class time on Wednesday 09/17 to practice and tweak performances which will be delivered on Monday 09/22 – Tuesday 09/23.  Keep in mind that sometimes the best laid plans of mice & men often go awry, so edit or change your concept if you can’t pull off something uber-fantastic in the amount of time you have.

If you have video and/or music requirements, send them to me via email so I can have all tech queued up prior to performances on Monday 09/22.

Students can earn up to 25 points extra credit for cleanly memorized performances.  Note: if you’re not fully memorized and stumble through, you can get points docked for sloppy execution, so only attempt memorization for extra credit if you can do it cleanly & crisply.

“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

On a new page in your class notebook put your name info in the upper right corner and title the page “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and complete each of the following activities on the same page(s).

Read pages 11-14 in your textbook. Summarize each of the four sub-sections on Puritans in their notebooks (a few sentences or bullet points over each section).

Read pages 44-45 in your text, copy the definitions from the box on page 45.

Read “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards on pages 46-48.  Answer questions 1,2,4,5,6, & 8 on page 49 of your text in your notebook.

Puritans, Rationalists, & Romantics

Students will take notes over early philosophies which influenced American literature.  Students will then be assigned readings in the text which represent each of the main philosophies discussed in their notes.  Students will take a quiz over notes & readings later next week.  Students who miss class are still responsible for notes & readings.

Mini-Essay: America(n)

On Friday we wrote about and discussed what it means to be “American.”  Based on your journal and our subsequent discussion, write a short essay  explaining your definition of “American” & what being an American means to you.