The Fenn Review

Looking for Editors!

I imagine right now some of you have more free time time than usual, and so I am looking for any of you who might be interested in helping to “recreate” our Fenn Voice “Readers Paradise” blog by going through the posts and editing for consistency and style. Here is the website!

I started it some years ago as a way for my students to practice writing reviews for books they have read, and I want to bring it back to life--and, hopefully, start adding more to the site than just books, I.e. videos, movies, poetry and short stories--really anything that celebrates the power of words. It is too much to handle on my own, so your help would be hugely appreciated.

Aside from being an interesting and unique experience, I also feel it will be helpful to you as a writer.

Let me know if you are interested, and I will send you a guest author invitation. This blog will then show up on your dashboard for you to access and start revising.

If it is something you want to be a part of, I will set up a Zoom video conference with everyone who is interested--and we can get started. 

Just let me know. Click read more!

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Life in the New Time

Sua Sponte

Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 2.12.10 PMIt is in Your Hands and me, who never seems at a loss for words, is stuttering for normality in an unnatural time, but it is in and through words, graced by magnanimous and selfless actions, that we can carve new paths through uncharted woods. No lesson plan, no "Week in Review," no enlightened curriculum, and no "How-to-Video" is readily at hand. Only an indefatigable spirit, suffused with stubborn persistence, and an almost intolerable patience, will keep the axe in our hands and keep our lives flailing forward. In time, the path--our unique paths--will open before us and lead us to where we need to go.

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Spring News: News & Updates

Preparing for Whatever Comes

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 11.40.02 AMGenius is the ability to independently arrive at and understand concepts that would normally have to be taught by another person. 
~Immanuel Kant

    If we need to delay the opening of school after vacation, I'll try to conduct class in the usual way--except for the sitting around the table: We will meet a few days a week on Zoom. I'll post the assignments and daily expectations on the blog, along with the weekly assignment sheet. I will input grades in MyFenn each week after reviewing your assignment sheet.

It is only a bit different than we have always done. So embrace the beast. We'll make it work!

If you need or want some additional help, we can set up a FaceTime conference. To facilitate this, please text me at 978-793-1553 and be sure to indicate in the text who it is from. 

Interested in extra credit? You may well have a lot of downtime over the next few weeks.

  1. If you post five or more journal entries over the next two weeks, I will give you five points.
  2. If you complete five Microworx assignments, I will give you five points. [I will post them soon]
  3. If you read a good book and write a literary reflection, you will get five points.

Not a bad deal in my estimation. Good luck over break--and perhaps beyond. Fitz English will keep on keeping on.


The Week in Review: 3/2-3/9

The Book that Never Ends

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Who are you?


Class This Week:  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday

Class Next Week:  Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday 


The Week in Review



  • Chapters 1-7
  • Socratic Prep


  • Socratic Discussion: What themes within Lord of the Flies resonates in society today. 2 Points
  • In-Class Literary Analysis: 30 minute speed writing. Using the Literary Analysis Paragraph A-Maker, you will have 45 minutes to write a 250 word literary analysis explicating a major theme from a passage in Lord of the Flies. 3 Points

Homework: You & Lord of the Flies:

  • Write a  journal entry (write for 30 minutes) about how the themes, plot and characters of Lord of the Flies plays out in your life--or of those you see around you.  Post in assignment sheet--and on your blog if appropriate. 3 Points



  • Journal Entry: You & Lord of the Flies


  • Read & Annotate: Chapters 8-9


  • Read & Annotate: Chapters 8-9



  • Chapters 8-9


  • Read & Annotate Chapter 10


  • Read & Annotate Chapter 11

Class Friday: 


  • Complete reading....
  • Introduce Lord of the Flies Slam Poem 

Homework: Final Metacognition 

  • Explore. Assess. Reflect. Rethink... four body paragraphs, plus intro and conclusion 500-700 words. Post in assignment sheet and on blog.

Class Next Tuesday: 


  • Final Reading metacognition.

Classwork: Lord of the Flies Slam Poem 

  • Really? What has your reading of Lord of the Flies done within you? If nothing, why? Deliver it in the form of a three-minute slam poem. Record in Garageband or as an iMovie. Post text and audio (or video) in the Assignment sheet. 5 Points. Due Thursday


  • Work on Slam Poem...

Class Next Wednesday: 


  • Slam poem text

Classwork: Lord of the Flies Slam Poem 

  • Complete and post slam poem on blog and in assignment sheet

Homework:  Slam Poem

  • Complete and Post Slam Poem. On your blog and in assignment sheet

Class Next Thursday: Class Performance Party: 

Have a great Spring Break!

The Week in Review: 2/24-3/1

Reading, Annotating, Researching & Writing

In class this week (and Monday):

  • Continue reading and annotating Lord of the Flies--Chapters 1-7.  You do not have to crazy annotating, but you should be able to provide me with quick visual that show you are highlighting new vocabulary and passages that validate important themes and/or incorporate good writing techniques. (3 Points)

  • Monday's class will begin with a fifteen-minute Socratic discussion on the themes in Chapters 1-7. You would be wise to research some of these themes over the weekend. (2 Points)

  • After the discussion, you will then be given thirty minutes to write a 250-300 word Literary Analysis paragraph--which includes two supporting quotes and one outside source quote to back up and validate your theme.  (3 points)



Download Lord of the Flies Research

Download A-Maker: Literary Analysis Paragraph Level lI

A Bit of Lord of the Flies Research…


To teach a book like Lord of the Flies is never an easy thing to do. Obviously, I want you to “like” reading the book. From the perspective of “technique,” this book is incredibly well written, and an entire semester could be spent just analyzing the rhetorical techniques Golding uses to tell his story; however, that only brushes the surface of how and why and what Golding attempts to achieve. The book is amazing in how it incorporates “secondary meaning” into the unfolding of the plot.

So below, is some “research” I did to help myself find the deeper meaning in the “themes” and “allusions” Golding weaves into Lord of the Flies. Notice, too, that I cited my sources as footnotes. Good writers borrow and great writers steal—but good  and dutiful researchers “always” cite their sources and give credit where credit is due.

Read the Research doc thoroughly. I think it will be help you more fully appreciate the opportunity you have right now—not to simply read, but to explore, reflect and engage Lord of the Flies in a deep and enduring way.

The Week in Review: February 10-21

Update: Last weeks assignments are not due until after class on Friday.

What Kind of Boy Are You?

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“We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?”

William Golding, Lord of the Flies



Class Meets:  Monday,  Wednesday, Thursday 



The Week in Review


Continue reading "The Week in Review: February 10-21" »

The Week in Review: 2/3-2/10

The Final Push

    Always step up into a lifeboat. You are a writer who has been hired to produce an Epic Story worth publishing--and you have been given a deadline. The boat is sinking and you will either go down with the ship, or you will step into the lifeboat and complete your work on time. But not before the ship sinks.

It's time to set realistic goals--and maybe even lower your bar--but don't settle for less than you are capable of achieving.

The due date is at the end of the first class next week. The final proofreading and editing can be finished in class on that day. You will submit your work to me as a pdf. I will review it in Notability. You are responsible for utilizing my Rules for Editing and my Top Ten Writing Errors to help with your proofreading.

I do appreciate all the work you are putting into this assignment. Be sure to continue with your metacognitions!


Download Design Writing: Rules for Editing

Download Design Writing: Top Ten Writing Errors


The Week in Review: January 27-February 2

The Week in Review


UPDATE: Sorry for any confusion. There is no "Plot Summary Sheet." Simply be prepared to "pitch your story" on Wednesday by giving a brief oral summary to the class of the current plot and future direction of your story--as well as current word count and chapters completed.


Class Meetings:  Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 

Class One: Tuesday


  • WW Fenn Prep


  • WW Fenn Presentations


  • Get back to your story.
  • Write a metacognition.

Class Two: Wednesday


  • Sorry for any confusion. There is no "Plot Summary Sheet." Simply be prepared to "pitch your story" by giving a brief oral summary to the class of the current plot and future direction of your story--as well as current word count and chapters completed.


  • Work on Story
  • Write Metacognition


  • Work on Story

Class Three: Thursday


  • Metacognition 


  • In-Class Story Review
  • Work on Story


  • Use Proofreading & Editing Tips & Techniques to proofread your story.
  • In a metacognition detail your proofreading experience.

The Olde & Noble Fenn Publick Speaking Contest...

WW Fenn Publick Speaking Contest

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“There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1.The nervous and 2. Liars.” 

~Mark Twain

UPDATE: Sometimes you have to roll with the punches. In years past the ninth grade has gone last in the Public Speaking Contest, BUT this year we go first, so we need to put our stories on simmer and tends to the business at hand--getting ready to perform a cool piece of literature.


 The WW Fenn Publick Speaking Contest [my spelling] originally started out as a poetry recitation contest. Over the years, however, the original rules have been bent and distorted to the point where it is sometimes hard to tell that it is supposed to be a celebration of "greatness" in literature, not a mimicking of a speech seen on TV or in a movie; not a silly comic piece or sing-songing children's story, and not a shallow barrage of clever words set into a story. 

I want you to have an experience that will live on in you and for you through as many years as you walk this earth; I want you to remember your words for the power that gives those words timelessness.  I want to get back to the purity of the original source and lifeblood of the WW Fenn contest. 

I want you to choose your WW Fenn performance piece carefully and thoughtfully. We will begin the classwork memorization and performance process right away--which is a multi-step process!


You may choose a poem, ballad, or a passage from a piece of classic or singularly great literature, which includes: novels, short stories, or essays; moreover, you may choose to recite a traditional myth or cultural story. Speeches that are a part of a larger piece of literature are allowed, but not speeches. If you wish, I will choose a piece for you.

The piece must be at least 90 seconds long, but not more than four minutes in length. I have included links to sources in the extended entry.


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Epic Story Project

 Download Freshman Epic Story Project


    Epic stories are about transformation.  The hero is plucked from the comforts of home and called to undertake an adventurous challenge. The hero prevails and returns home transformed. It's a pretty simple formula that has obviously stood the test of time. You will never read a story or watch a movie where the main character remains unchanged; moreover, you will never have an experience "worth remembering" where you remain unchanged. You can't enter the same river twice. You are not the same person you were before you began reading this, and you are surely not the same person you will be after reading The Odyssey  It's only a matter of the degree of transformation and how you were transformed. A good personal narrative story tells the story of the human experience, but, more importantly, it tells the story of transformation.  

The hero cycle is not a rubric created for storytellers; it is the primal urge of all people, across all cultures, to experience the transformation of the hero. It is the power of hope over despair. It gives possibilities for life. It is a recognition that without agnos (pain) there is no aristos (glory), and, in that sense, it validates even the most common and hard-bitten of lives and makes every life uncommon, unique, and worthwhile.  It is not an absurd idea to recognize the greatness in our own lives. It is not absurd to think we have an epic tale worth telling, and it is certainly not absurd to examine every experience through the lens of introspection and appreciate the implications of transformation.

The hero cycle is not a rubric created for storytellers; it is the primal urge of all people—across all cultures—to experience within their own lives the transformation of being a hero.  Every ancient culture that has had its history recorded has some epic poem or story to guide its people. The heroic cycle represents the power of hope over despair; it gives us all the chance for redemption—even in the hardest of times. It is a recognition that without agnos (pain) there is no aristos (glory), and, in that sense, it validates even the most common and hard-bitten of lives by making the lives of every man, woman and child that has ever lived uncommon, unique, and worthwhile.  

It is not an absurd idea to recognize the greatness and possibilities of our own lives. It is not absurd to think we have an epic tale worth telling, and it is certainly not absurd to examine every experience through a reflective lens and to start to appreciate the implications of transformation which heroic poetry represents.  As human beings, we are hard-wired to need this epic poetry. We can’t just read the epic as a story and move on. We have to know the story and build and incorporate the allegory into our own lives; otherwise, we will run from the battles of life; we will avoid the straits of Skylla and the lair of the Cyclops; we will shun the Gods who come disguised to us and coddle the children given to us; we won’t shed tears for common friends, and we will lock out every stranger and blame our mishaps and misdeeds on the gods.  

In short, we will not be remembered, and no songs will be sung about us. The saddest part is that you may think this is all exaggeration and hyperbole. This is not true. Our lives are full of stories that use the heroic cycle. Our imaginations are even more full. 

Your epic story should follow the steps of the hero cycle! Remember that this is a guide—not a mandate, but it is a “pattern” to help guide how you tell your story. Please adopt it to suit your story, but ignore it at your peril…

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