Video Commenting...

The Weekend in Review...

Due by Tuesday...

    Your only other homework, after submitting your video, is to go to the Fitz English YouTube Channel and comment in "supportive, substantial and specific ways on each of your classmates's videos--and at least five others from a different class.

If you comment on all 8 & 9th videos, you will earn a perfect score on the video project 10/10

Fenn Video Memoirs, 2020




The Week in Review: May 4-10


Wednesday, 10:00

Download 9th Grade Weekly May 4-10


Assignment #1: Reading

Details: Continue reading Walden in a least three 30 minute sessions before Friday. Complete the reading log in the assignment sheet.

Assignment #2: The Power of Reflection

Details: Write a 750 word essay that explores the power of reflective thought to help build a set of beliefs that you feel are right, just and true. Weave at least three quotes from Walden that you either agree or disagree with to either back up your beliefs or serve as a counterpoint to your argument. 

Opening paragraph: Set the scene by introducing the reader to your essay in a personal  way and “points” the reader in the direction your essay is going to go. For help, visit my “How to Write Opening Paragraphs” website.

Three Body Paragraphs: Each paragraph should introduce a “belief” that you hold dear. It is not unwise to use the “Design Writing Paragraph Plan” to guide the flow your writing. It can be written in a narrative style or in a more formal way of literary analysis.

Conclusion: Open the door. Don’t close it. Do your best to write a short conclusion that gives the reader something to think about. Don’t just recap what you have written about already in your essay.

If you need help, please text me and we can set up a private or group conference.

Post in your assignment sheet and to your blog before Monday, May 11

Thoreau's Journal: On This Day

 Henry David Thoreau

Journal Entries

Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 4.02.08 PMSays I to myself” should be the motto of my journal. It is fatal to the writer to be too much possessed by his thought.
Things must lie a little remote to be described. 

Henry David Thoreau, Journal

    Over the course of his life, Thoreau's Journals comprised 47 full-length manuscripts. He wrote something almost every day of his adult life. Many entries are simply observations of nature or details his excursions in the woods and fields and rivers in and around Concord; many others are simply thoughts and philosophical explorations. These journal entries built the foundation of his classic literary works. I will add a new journal entry for each corresponding day while we read and study--and mimic Thoreau in our own journal entries.

May 6, 1854

It makes no odds into what seeming deserts the poet is born. Though all his neighbors pronounce it a Sahara, it will be a paradise to him; for the desert which we see is the result of the barrenness of our experience. No mere willful activity whatever, whether in writing verses or collecting statistics, will produce true poetry or science. If you are really a sick man, it is indeed to be regretted, for you cannot accomplish so much as if you were well. All that a man has to say or do that can possibly concern mankind, is in some shape or other to tell the story of his love, - to sing; and, if he is fortunate and keeps alive, he will be forever in love. This alone is to be alive to the extremities. It is a pity that this divine creature should ever suffer from cold feet; a still greater pity that the coldness so often reaches to his heart. I look over the report of the doings of a scientific association and am surprised that there is so little life to be reported; I am put off with a parcel of dry technical terms. Anything living is easily and naturally expressed in popular language. I cannot help suspecting that the life of these learned professors has been almost as inhuman and wooden as a rain-gauge or self-registering magnetic machine. They communicate no face which rises to the temperature of blood-heat. It doesn’t all amount to one rhyme.

Continue reading "Thoreau's Journal: On This Day" »

Week in Review: April 27-May 3

Reading Thoreau

Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 8.54.05 AM

Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last,
a simple and sincere account of his own life . . .

~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Download Fitz's Abbreviated Walden

Download 9th Weekly April 27-May 3


    Walden is not the easiest book to read; however, it is certainly one of the most well-written books in the English language—or perhaps any language. Thoreau did not write for lightweight readers, but rather to readers who genuinely seek insight, clarity and boundless wisdom.

Walden is not only challenging to read, it is challenging because Thoreau  challenges us to look at our lives in critical—and often uncomfortable ways. I have several high-minded friends who like to speak critically about Thoreau and deride his writing and lifestyle. Funny thing is—none of them have really read Thoreau; they have only read “about” Thoreau.

Here is your chance to read Thoreau, to learn from Thoreau, to reflect on his writing and to reflect on your own life.

As noted, this is NOT an easy text, but over years of teaching Walden to 9th graders, it is a reading experience that is always appreciated, and is often life-changing—for Thoreau argues powerfully that if our lives are not fulfilling, it is us and individuals who need to change our lives.

All I can ask is to do what you can do with as much intellectual strength as you can muster in the moment. It will be worth it! The assignments are all on the weekly download.


The Original "Give a Damn"

A Teacher's Plea

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 11.32.53 PMOnly those who go where few have gone can see what few have seen.
Buddha Gautama


I wrote this piece many years ago, and it is my first writing piece that I wrote "for" my students at the time. For ten years I was the shop teacher, but the school needed an English teacher for one section of 8th grade. I had to beg for the job. Mr. Ward somewhat reluctantly gave me a try. Then they were stuck with me. This was before we even had blogs, and I was struggling to get my students to actually give a damn about what they were writing. I wanted them to know that I cared more about who they were then what they were. They seemed shocked, but they reacted with enthusiasm, and when I see them now, many years later, we laugh and remember it as if it were yesterday.

    This is my first year of teaching English, and already a horizon of discontent is looming. In another place I would probably need a bodyguard. Today, I not only assigned my eighth grade class the first five chapters—37 pages—in some book called A Guide To Writing Essays, but I also told these students the same thing I told their parents: that nothing is more important than the ability to write a good essay; that essay writing is a skill that will save them time and again in this great adventure called life. I then went on about how educational, fun, and rewarding it would be. I teased them with tales of how they would discover huge deposits of original thought and creative speculations—rough stones that they would craft into a wonderful creation called The Essay. They were writers, each and every one of them, and I would prove it to them. I think some of them believed me—even I believed me! I’m sure some of them saw through my pontifications and secretly wished to be placed in another section. Their parents were, I’m sure, aghast at my naivete, but they simply looked at me with stoic resignation, accepting the fate of their son to be the proving ground for an old shop teacher run amok in a classroom. 

Continue reading "The Original "Give a Damn"" »

Week in Review: April 22-26

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Download 9th Grade Weekly April 22-26

First off a thanks…

I was wildly happy last night reading your “memoirs.” It was some of the best writing I have seen all year—honest, well-structured, reflective and full of deep and thoughtful meaning. Thank you. Hopefully, you all had the chance to read each other’s posts and comment. I know it is NOT a quick and easy task, but I trust it was rewarding to share in such an invested writing community. 

On a harder note, we all heard the disappointing news today that we will be online until the end of the school year. I can only imagine how this feels for you, but in Latin: “id est quod id est” It is what it is… What we do with this “it” is what defines and what will be our legacy. Create a positive way forward and live without regrets, even when everything seems painfully impossible to imagine. 

Continue reading "Week in Review: April 22-26" »

George Writes an Essay

Another take on how to write about reading...

    Why am I the poor smuck saddled with a teacher who insists on finding meaning and metaphor in everything we read? Like The Odyssey: I mean, the book is full of random everythings; Like just when Odysseus starts to figure something out (and I have a half a clue what is going on) he breaks of into some wild story with a hundred new characters. "Oh," says my teacher, "that is a literary technique to build the scope and sweep of the poem. It is the hallmark of an "epic" literary work." If that is the case, then I have a crazy old uncle—a guy who never knows when to stop talking—who is probably a direct descendant of Homer. Yeah, from now on I'll call him "Uncle Epic." The only reason I half like the book is because I actually believe that I'm supposed to like it—or at least appreciate it. I can't imagine that every English teacher for the last 1500 years or so is wrong. Maybe they've all been hypnotized by the Siren's song of conformity. I liked that part of the book: Odysseus getting his crew to lash him to the mast so he could hear the Siren's song, but still not do something stupid like get lured away by Siren herself. "Stairway to Heaven" probably had that effect in the 70's when it first came out. Jees, I'm as bad as Homer; Listen to me getting off track. And I shouldn't get off track because this foolish essay is only one of six assignments over the weekend.



Continue reading "George Writes an Essay" »

Patty: A Personal Memoir

My Way Cool Sister


God takes one to teach many...

    We were coming home from church one morning and Jimmy Glennon pulled up beside us as we approached the Sudbury road lights. He didn't notice the well-dressed family of eight scrunched into our old Pontiac station wagon as he revved the engine of his yellow and black mustang fastback. I was crammed in the rearward facing back seat doling out peace signs and air horn salutes, but the scene unfolding in front of me was one of the coolest scenes ever: here was the guy Patty had a date with the night before seeming to challenge my father to a drag race, or at the very least humiliate, the infamous and fiery EJ—on a Sunday morning no less.


Continue reading "Patty: A Personal Memoir" »