I am sorry that I cannot be with you today. I have to go to an all-day, district training on the Common Core State Standards.
Today, we take a break from research, and you get to read something that:
- …is remarkable writing
- …influenced my own writing and thinking
- …is apropos (great word!) for seniors
Here’s the plan (please read through the instructions before beginning):
- 5 min: List (on a page in your notebook) 3+ things that have improved your writing, from any year.
- 3 min: Skim my list below.
- 22 min: As you listen, read “This is Water” (Widely considered the greatest commencement speech ever). Follow the text carefully as you listen. Work hard at this.
- 15 min: Look back over the text. Copy any five or more consecutive lines from the body of text (skip the first three paragraphs). Return the text to my desk before you leave.
- Read at least one of the other articles listed below (by clicking the link). In class or for homework. What catches your ear in the writing? Copy a quote from what you read.
- Turn in your work (from Steps 1-6) on Monday.
- Extra Credit: complete the vocab work for “This is Water”. The vocab has been underlined in the text. You can turn this in by next Friday.
Here’s what has helped my writing the most (in order):
- Reading. These, in particular, affected my writing:
- 1984 by George Orwell (full text online)
- “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace
- Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits by Dave Barry (examples: Bang the Tupperware Slowly, Naked City: Dave Barry Exposes Miami, Decaf Poopacino, Do They Really Think She’s Mary Lou Retton?)
- Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis (excerpt that uses the three primary forms of Reason-based support: Analogy, “If… then…” statements, Syllogism)
- “Thinking as a Hobby” by William Golding
- Various poetry. Billy Collins, Edgar Allen Poe, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Shakespeare, Pablo Neruda, etc. Here’s a list of poems.
Here’s the thing: Whether your goal is money, maturity, or inner peace, it cannot be achieved without persistence.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge
But after persistence, no such goal can be achieved without reading.
- Thinking. Reading made me a better thinking; becoming a better thinker made me a better writer. Writing and thinking are parts of the same thing. It is impossible to write without thinking… Even if the thinking is not happening willfully (like during a freewrite!).