Monthly Archives: September 2013

Thoreau & Emerson: Literary Royals

Although American Transcendentalism was a movement of the 1800s, its messages ring true even today. More specifically, the works of Thoreau and Emerson encourage us to evaluate the negative effects of blind allegiance, groupthink, and materialism, elements with which our society still grapples. But before we can levy such judgements about our culture, it is wise to engage with some of its popular forms!

Let’s dive into some pop-culture analysis! Click the link!

Continue reading Thoreau & Emerson: Literary Royals

Back to School Night 2013!

The bell has rung! What’s that mean? Well, tonight it means that Back to School 2013 is officially underway! I’m excited to meet my students’ representatives, and look forward to sharing a bit about the events of the upcoming school year!

If this is your first time at the Digital Loft, take the opportunity to explore the class pages (with the tabs above) and the posts (listed below)!


After reading it independently and discussing it as a class, we now know that Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience is an essay intended to smash through the status quo-mentality that often handcuffs (pun intended!) our society.

So in the spirit of destroying those structures which oppress us, it only makes sense to watch Mark Ruffalo (known to many as the actor who portrayed the benevolently monstrous Hulk in 2012’s The Avengers) reading an excerpt from the text!

Speakin’ and Writin’ Correct(ly)

A complaint nearly guaranteed to be heard in the Freshman English classes is that grammar isn’t important. The argument often takes some form of, “Does this even matter? Can’t I just write the way I write? What’s the big deal?”

Check out the above video consider the ways in which we follow/ignore certain rules of spelling and pronunciation. Although languages are constantly evolving, nebulous entities, how are those who can operate with a set of conventions empowered?

In short — having a solid understanding of grammatical conventions puts you in a better position to express yourself clearly. And isn’t that the whole point of communication? (Answer: Yes.)

Junot Díaz: Fiction is Particular & Universal

There is no doubt that Junot Diaz is a writer-extraordinaire.

In addition to penning two short-story collections (Drown and This Is How Your Lose Her) and a full-length novel (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), Diaz teaches at MIT in Cambridge. Moreover, Diaz’s fiction earned him a grant from the MacArthur Fellows Program, which recognizes and rewards individuals of immense aspirational and creative prowess.

Take a few moments to watch the following video, which sees Junot Diaz discussing the seemingly magical way fiction about very particular scenarios can universally affect all readers.

John Green’s Not Looking for Controversy

Looking For Alaska, like many books, has been banned by certain communities and schools for containing material perceived as offensive. In 2008, teachers at a high school near Buffalo, New York, wanted to use the book for instruction but were challenged by members of the community. What follows is author John Green’s video-response.

What do you think about the censoring, banning, or editing of books? What do make of John Green’s explanation for his inclusion of candid, graphic scenes?

Welcome to 2013-2014!


As the  first day of the 2013-2014 school year, September 4th marks the beginning of many new adventures! Whether you’re a freshman just finding your way around WHS, a junior with aspirations for the future, or one of the creative minds hoping to hone your writing skills, you can rest assured that you’ve got a full year ahead of you. Through the wonders of reading, writing, and critical analysis, we will learn much about works of literature, the world around us, and ourselves. Along the way, we are going to encounter many new ideas, face plenty of challenges, and bask in the glory of our successes.

Now if that ain’t a sales-pitch for English class, I don’t know what is!

I look forward to meeting all of you tomorrow!