AdvancEd Survey

Students: Please take this survey by Friday 12/11.

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Blues Music for the Crossroads Myth

Hi Seniors,

Here are a few songs by Tommy Johnson and Robert Johnson, as well as a few notes about their lives.

Tommy Johnson (1896 – November 1, 1956) was a highly influential blues guitarist and singer who recorded for about twenty years.  “Johnson’s recordings established him as the premier Delta blues vocalist of his day, with a powerful voice that could go from a growl to a falsetto. He was also an accomplished guitarist. His style influenced later blues singers such as Robert Nighthawk and Howlin’ Wolf …as well as country singer Hank Williams. He was a talented composer, blending fragments of folk poetry and personalized lyrics into set guitar accompaniments to craft striking blues compositions….  To enhance his fame, Johnson cultivated a sinister persona. According to his brother LeDell, he claimed to have sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in exchange for his mastery of the guitar” (“Tommy Johnson”)

Tommy Johnson youtube playlist

Tommy-Johnson pre-1923.png


Robert Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938) (no relation to Tommy) was a more mysterious figure, and there is continuing debate over his identity.  According to legend, he was not a very good guitarist as a young man, but after meeting with the devil at the crossroads at midnight and selling his soul, he played better than any other blues musician. The “Crossroads Myth,” by most accounts, began with Tommy Johnson, and was only attached to Robert after his death, which was somewhat mysterious.  Perhaps it is because of the mystery of his life and death that the legend has become more famously attached to Robert than to Tommy over the years since they gained fame (with reference to “Robert Johnson” and “Crossroads”)

Robert Johnson youtube playlist

Robert Johnson.png

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If you lost your Holy Grail Extra Credit handout…

…Here’s what it said:

Wednesday, October 14th, Cinemark is showing Monty Python’s Holy Grail in a “Quote-along” format.  This film relates to Mythology, as we are already discussing epic heroes, leadership, and the ways in which a culture’s values and morals are encoded into their myths and legends; in addition, we will spend the month of January studying King Arthur.

This film takes a satirical look at myth and legend, yet, like any great satire, it contains a great deal of “truth” about the story.  It is also a great demonstration of how stories are changed, updated, and passed down from one generation to the next in a continuous game of “Telephone.”

To get extra credit for seeing this film, you must do the following:

  1. Keep your ticket stub
  2. Write a paragraph (up to 2 pages) reviewing the film. This must include a thesis statement with a rating (use any system you like—stars, points, thumbs, etc.), details from the film to support your rating, and connections to the themes of Mythology class (see above).
  3. Staple your ticket stub to your review, and turn it in to the basket no later than Friday 10/23.
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Writing in the Real World

Next week, we will begin writing the Personal Essay. This essay will be something you use to help you reach your future goals, be they college and scholarships, or trade school and work.

Regardless of where you plan to go, you will need writing to help you get there. The BBC, in characteristically timely fashion, published an article today that highlights this fact, and describes “The Biggest Writing Mistakes” graduates make when they enter the world of work, regardless of their fields.  The pitfalls described in the article are the same ones I often see in the Personal Essay, so keep them in mind as you write, and as you go out into the world!

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Open House

Hello parents and families!

Welcome to Open House.

Please feel free to check out my website: you’ll find syllabuses, class materials and supplementary information, as well as some information about me.

Here is the presentation from tonight.

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Agenda Aug.27-28

Hi all–Welcome back to school!  I’m excited to have you in my class this year.

We have a lot of events coming up in the next two weeks, from picture day to the Benchmark Writing Assessment, so in this class we will take these first two days to get settled in and get to know each other, and then we’ll hit the ground running on Monday.

English IV: We will do a few introductory activities in these first days to help you learn class procedures and get to know each other.

English II: We will get to know each other this week in a few introductory activities.  Because this class is 7th period, we will do icebreakers on Thursday, and save the syllabus review for Friday. You’ll be sick to death of syllabuses by the end of the day Thursday!

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ACT Resources from Admin

Hi all,

HHS Administrators have sent out some links to ACT resources that some of you may wish to make use of:

Preparing for the ACT

Full-Length Practice Tests, including:

  • A writing test
  • Information about the writing test
  • Strategies to prepare for the test
  • What to expect on test day


Like ‘The ACT Test’ and ask questions about preparation and follow discussions.

ACT Student App for iPhone and iPod touch:

Using the “Practice” feature, students can attempt answers to practice items and gain feedback from

their attempts.

ACT Question of the Day:

One question a day from the English, Math, Reading, or Science components of past ACT tests.

Writing Test FAQs:

Commonly asked questions about the ACT writing test.

Tips for the ACT Writing Test:

Learn how to pace yourself, as well as prewrite, write, and review your essay.

Essay Scoring Guidelines:

Here you will find the descriptions of scoring criteria that trained readers will follow to determine the

score (1–6) for your essay.

Sample Essays with Scores

Here you will find a sample essay for each scoring level, along with an explanation of the score


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Discussion Questions for Secret Life of Bees

Hi Seniors,

We have a big Graded Discussion on Monday to wrap up the Secret Life of Bees unit; don’t forget to bring your 3 questions!

Remember:  We worked with a number of texts during this unit, so while one or more of your questions MUST be about the Secret Life of Bees (book), the others may cover any of the following:

  • The Secret Life of Bees (film– especially as it compares with the book)
  • John Scalzi’s “Straight White Male” article
  • Peggy McIntosh’s “Invisible Knapsack” article
  • “Hipster” -isms (see the notes)
  • Henry Louis Gates’s documentary, African American Lives

I’d also encourage you to review the various themes, motifs, and symbols of the book–don’t limit yourself to just the plot and characters.

Also, you may want to review the above materials before the discussion; they can be found on the Secret Life of Bees page of this site.


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Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday

April 23rd marks William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday!

Celebrate by talking like the bard, listening to the original pronunciation of his works, learn about his life and times, or visit the resources from the Birthplace Trust.


I plan to dress up, and in class, we’ll play with Shakespearean language, watch one or two videos (SF will watch the Doctor Who episode featuring the Immortal Bard), and maybe view my 4-5 photos from my visit to Stratford-upon-Avon:Shakespeare Grave

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Transition Words

On Friday, 7th Period requested a list of Transition Words to help them craft more interesting, less repetitive transitions between ideas and between paragraphs.  I have added a link in the LOTF page to PurdueOWL’s list, and I am copying that link here so that everyone has easy access:

OWL’s list of transition words.  Remember, the allegory essay has some elements of compare/contrast, so these words may come in very handy!

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