What struck me the most as I read over my portfolio was that my writing has improved greatly throughout my 9th grade year. When people read my writing I want them to feel impressed by what they read and learn from the content. My voice when writing has become much more articulate and engaging. I have developed my own sound to my writing, one which I think could stick with people. My passion this year in English has been writing. I still don’t have a love of reading and I’m not a fan of tests. But all in all I’ve coped with the workload of 9th grade English and I’m ready for 10th grade.
My experience of making this portfolio was an interesting one. I don’t usually enjoy looking back on my past work, but I felt that I grew a fair amount this year and I wouldn’t have realized it if I hadn’t looked back. The piece that I am most proud of has to be my vignette. It was a personal story for me, a reminiscent look back at one of my favorite people who is no longer in my life.
Benchmark 1: The purpose of this benchmark was to understand a character from Macbeth using quotes and quote analysis. The character that I chose was Macbeth.
Thesis: At the beginning of the play Macbeth was a kind and brave person by the end he was evil and corrupted.
In Act 1 Scene 2 on page 4, line 16, The captain is talking about Macbeth to King Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, and Lennox. He says, “For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—” The captain is talking about what a brave soldier and good fighter Macbeth is in battle. This is important to the growth of his character because it helps to see how others perceive him at the beginning of the play. This quote is effective because it helps see that at the beginning of the play people liked him and think he is a brave soldier. Macbeth showed his bravery by going into battle and slaying his enemy.
In Act 1 Scene 3 on page 12, lines 130-138, Macbeth is talking to himself after he hears the witches prophesy. “This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, why hath it given me earnest of success, commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor. If good, why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seat ed heart knock at my ribs, Against the use of nature? Present fears are less than horrible imaginings.” Macbeth is wondering about what the witches have said. Becoming Thane of Cawdor is a good thing but he is not sure why now he is thinking about killing his friend, King Duncan. It horrifies him that he is thinking about it. At this point in the play he still knows the difference between good and bad actions and is able to question his evil thoughts.
In Act 1 Scene 5 on page 16, lines 15-17, Lady Macbeth is reading a letter she received from Macbeth, she says out loud to herself, “What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness.” Lady Macbeth is worried about whether or not Macbeth has what it takes to take the crown and become king. She thinks he is too kind. She thinks he is not aggressive enough or mean enough. She also thinks that he is not capable to do what he needs to do in order to be king because he is too good of a man. At this point in the play, she’s right, he is too kind.
In Act 2 Scene 1 page 25 lines 34-65, Macbeth is talking to Banquo about the witches prophesy. After Banquo leaves, Macbeth is talking to himself and begins to hallucinate “Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee…Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going, And such an instrument I was to use…There’s no such thing. It is the bloody business which informs Thus to mine eyes…Whiles I threat, he lives. Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives. I go, and it is done. The bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan, For it is a knell That summons thee to heaven or to hell.” Macbeth is debating whether or not to kill King Duncan. His courage comes and goes through out this soliloquy. In the end he decides to go through with the murder. This is the turning point for him. He is starting to loose his sense of reality when he thinks there is a dagger in front of him that isn’t there. However the fact that he is debating with himself about whether or not to kill means he hasn’t lost all sense of right and wrong yet.
In Act 2 Scene 2 on page 29 lines 51-54, Macbeth is talking to Lady Macbeth directly after Macbeth murders King Duncan. The tension is high. He says, “I’ll go no more: I am afraid to think what I have done; Look on ’t again I dare not.”
Macbeth is completely freaked out by the fact that he has killed King Duncan. Lady Macbeth wants him to go put the bloody daggers next to the servants to frame them for the crime but he can’t bring himself to do it. He has post-traumatic stress disorder. His reaction to what has happened says that at this point in the play he is wrestling with the two sides of himself, the good, kind brave side and the evil power hungry side.
In Act 3 Scene 4 on page 55-56, lines 135-141 Macbeth is again talking to Lady Macbeth, and says, “More shall they speak, for now I am bent to know, By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good, All causes shall give way. I am in blood Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o'er.
Strange things I have in head, that will to hand, Which must be acted ere they may be scanned.” Macbeth is concerned with himself and his own good and wellbeing. This is a change for him. Where before he felt bad about what he had done, now he feels that he can’t possibly go back to being a good person. He feels that he is in this so far now that there is no turning back. He has converted to be an evil person and has more cold-blooded things that he thinking about doing.
In Act 4 Scene 1 lines 104-108 on page 65-66, Macbeth is talking to himself. This is while he is receiving the apparitions. “Then live, Macduff. What need I fear of thee? But yet I’ll make assurance double sure, And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live, That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies, And sleep in spite of thunder.” While talking to himself, first Macbeth thinks that he won’t kill Macduff, because Macduff is not a problem for him. Then he decides why not just kill him anyway, then he won’t have to worry about him at all and he’ll be able to sleep better. At this point in the play Macbeth has lost all sense of right and wrong.
In Act 4 Scene 3 lines 15-17 on page 73 Malcolm and Macduff are having a conversation about Macbeth while they are in England. They are planning on overthrowing Macbeth. They are saying, “You may deserve of him through me, and wisdom To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb T' appease an angry god.” Macduff and Malcolm are talking about how evil and angry Macbeth is acting. He is the angry god they Malcolm is talking about. This is one of the first times that others have started to talk about the change in Macbeth. The fact that people are noticing Macbeth’s behavior and want to get overthrow him, says that he must be really out of control.
In Act 5 Scene 3 on page 89 lines 39-47 Macbeth and the doctor are having a conversation about Lady Macbeth. The doctor says to Macbeth about Lady Macbeth, ”Not so sick, my lord, As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies That keep her from her rest.” Macbeth then says, “Cure her of that. Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, Raze out the written troubles of the brain And with some sweet oblivious antidote Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff Which weighs upon the heart?” The doctor is saying that Lady Macbeth is not really sick, but she is troubled with what is on her mind. Macbeth is becoming scared that Lady Macbeth will tell people in her sleep what Macbeth has done. His conscious is feeling guilty of all the wrongs he has done, but he more scared that he will get caught. Even though he feels some guilt the fact that he is more concerned about his own well being and less concerned about what he has done, means he is selfish and self centered.
In Act 5 Scene 8 on page 96-97 lines 32-34 Macbeth is talking to Macduff. They are getting ready to fight to the death. “Yet I will try the last. Before my body I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff, And damned be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!” Macbeth is saying he will fight Macduff till one of them dies. He is so driven to get to the top. He is willing to risk his life to get there. He would rather die then surrender. This is the end of the play and he has completely lost any sense of his former self. He is no longer the kind or brave person that he was, instead he is driven person who wants more and more power.
Macbeth has gone from a brave and courageous symbol to a man who will do anything to get to the top. He has killed friends and watched as his wife has gone crazy and died and nothing has affected his climb to where he thinks he should be based on the witches prophesy. Shakespeare’s message in this play could be just because someone predicts that something will happen doesn’t mean you need to make it happen. Instead you should follow your heart and mind.
Benchmark 2: The idea behind this project was to help students connect with the reader. I chose to write about my grandfather.
Grandpa and his Eggs
Grandpa is dead but his eggs live on. (opener) Grandpa lived in Chicago where every Thanksgiving my family goes to visit. Every year my grandfather would make a humungous and delicious breakfast, which included scrambled eggs. This was a tradition that was started by his family, passed down to him and now onto my family.
As soon as I was old enough to hold a fork I loved to volunteer to help with the eggs. There were so many people at breakfast one year I ended up cracking 30 eggs. There I was only about three feet tall standing on a step stool so I could reach the counter. It was hard work and my hands were so cold they turned as blue as a corpse. (simile) My grandfather knew when to be serious and when to be humorous. And when he was humorous he was hilarious. That day he kept saying, “Put the eggs in the sink and the shells into the bowl.” (dialogue) This made me think that the whole breakfast could be ruined because of me. One time I did end up actually doing that. I then quickly and stealthily snuck the suspects into their proper places. He didn’t see me. After all the eggs were cracked we mixed them with a fork. It was really fun but tiring. I let my older brother Andrew take over for a minute while I went to help my grandpa with the bagels. Andrew said he was tired after what felt like a split second and that I needed to come back. Grandpa was very particular about the mixing, so I returned. You need to use just the right amount of wrist action, quick and continuous. It’s like riding a bicycle at top speed or like a cheetah running after it’s prey. It’s what I imagine driving a Lamborghini down a country road would feel like. (metaphor and magic 3)
Grandpa added all the ingredients, salt, pepper, tiny bit of milk, and then said, “Now, we need the secret ingredient.” He told me when I was old enough he would tell me what the special ingredient was. My mom knows what it is. I think my aunt and uncle know too. Now that I think about it the secret was never very secretive. He reached under the counter and pulled out a dark bottle. I was confused about what it was. I believe that was the first time I saw the bottle. He surreptitiously added a few drops of the liquid. My curiosity was greater than my patience, so the next day I peeked. The bottle was wrapped in brown paper with writing on it. I couldn’t pronounce the word and I obviously couldn’t ask anyone for help.
When we finally sat down to eat breakfast it was so scrumptious and everyone had plenty to eat. The conversation was lively and people were enjoying themselves. It made my grandpa really satisfied when people would eat his eggs. It made me happy to help him be happy.
The tradition of making scrambled eggs doesn’t sound like much, but when you hear my mom or my aunt or my uncle talk about the eggs there is a certain vibe that you get. Now sometimes I hear my brother and I talk that way too. I can’t really tell you what it’s all about, but I do think it has everything to do with connecting us to our mother, our grandfather, and our great-grandfather, and his parents and on and on. Tradition is like passing the torch at the opening ceremony of the Olympics or passing a baton in a relay race. (metaphor) It unites people and brings people together for a common experience.
So, Grandpa is dead but I still eat his eggs almost everyday. Oh, and that secret ingredient…can’t tell.
Benchmark 3: For this benchmark we were supposed to write compare and contrast essay between and “The Odyssey” and O Brother Where Out Thou.
Odysseus vs. Everett
Life is a big journey. Each person has a different way of living their life. This holds true for Odysseus in the poem “The Odyssey” and for Everett in the movie Oh Brother Where Art Thou. From an outside perspective Odysseus and Everett have similar journeys; however, their philosophies differ vastly from one another making for two very separate, yet equally entertaining stories.
Even though both Odysseus and Everett eventually end back at their homes, they needed to escape from some places to finally arrive there. One man is escaping from a prison chain gang, while the other is escaping from the beautiful woman, Calypso on the island of Ogygia. Both men are being held prisoner against their will. Everett and his two cellmates Pete and Delmar are running from the law, and have many adventures on their way home. A few examples of these adventures are: they needed to have money so they recorded a hit song, they got baptized for the fun of it thinking it would clear them of their sins, and they disrupted a KKK ceremony in order to save a friend. Odysseus on the way home from Calypso, narrowly resists the Sirens that were trying to seduce him. He travels to the land of the Lotus Eaters where his men eat the Lotus flower and forget their mission and stop caring about what they set out to do. He visits the island of Cyclops where he must escape from Poseidon’s son Polyphemus. After getting Polyphemus drunk and blinding him, he and his men quietly escape under his sheep. “That flock, those well-fed rams with their splendid thick fleece, sturdy, handsome beasts, sporting their dark weight of wool. I lashed them abreast, quietly, twisting the willow-twigs the Cyclops slept on.” (Book 9, lines 474-478) Both men overcome their obstacles and challenges, and continue their mission to arrive safely at home.
Each mans wife is going to marry someone else unless the men get back home in time. Many suitors are perusing Odysseus’ wife Penelope in Ithaca. Odysseus wants to get off the island where he is being held captive by Calypso to get back to his wife. Calypso tells Odysseus, “But if you only knew, down deep, what pains are fated to fill your cup before you reach that shore, you’d stay right here, preside in our house with me and be immortal. Much as you long to see your wife the one you pine for all your days.” (Book 5, lines 228-232) This quote talks about how nice his life could be if he stayed with Calypso and yet he still wants to go home to his wife. His wife, wants Odysseus home too, but soon will run out of reasons why she can’t marry a suitor. She has been trying to hold off the suitors for some time. Everett’s’ wife on the other hand is going to marry someone else and is lying about his whereabouts. She told their kids that a train had hit him. Everett wants to get back to her, for the simple reason that he still loves her. When the sheriff is about to hang them, Everett prays to God that he can see his wife and kids again. This shows that Everett has deep feelings for his family. His wife on the other hand does not want Everett, but despite this, she is married to him, and it is against the law to be married to more then one man. Both men are committed to their given spouses, and will do anything to get home regardless of them getting side tracked often.
Although both Odysseus and Everett tell many lies throughout the course of their journeys, they lie for different reasons. Everett lies for selfish reasons, while Odysseus lies for the good of his team. In Oh Brother Where Art Thou during the group’s travels, Everett confesses that there is no treasure, it is the bait he used in order to have help escaping and getting home. This means that Everett was very being very selfish. Odysseus on the other hand lies to his men for their safety while traveling. One time he lies because he has to choose between challenging Scylla, or Charybdis. He knows that six men will die when he goes to the monster Scylla. It is between losing six men or losing all of them in the whirlpool, Charybdis. He doesn’t tell the men any of this, he just spurs them into action. He thinks that if he were to tell them everything then they wouldn’t want to do it knowing that six of them would die. “Now wailing in fear, we road on up those straights, Scylla to starboard, dreaded Charybdis off to port… But now, fearing death, all eyes fixed on Charybdis/now Scylla snatched six men from our hollow ship,”… (Book 12, lines 53-54 and 65-66)
The journeys of Odysseus and Everett are similar; however, their approaches to their situations are dissimilar. Even though they both needed to escape from places in order to get home, their treks were very divergent. Even though both of their wives are going to marry someone else if they don’t get to them in time, their relationships with their spouses are very different, and even though they both tell many lies for different reasons their actions are varied. They each faced many obstacles in their path to get home. These paths are filled with diverse twists and turns, each man fought through the hardships they faced. In this way they are the same. It is their thinking and motivation that is the most contrasted.
Me Magazine: The “me” magazine was the first thing that we did this year. It was meant to help teach everyone about who you are. It was fun but difficult to talk about myself that much.My me magazine can be found in the multimedia section of this blog.
Independent reading: (Flowers For Algernon) My independent reading assignment was flowers for Algernon. For this project we read a book of our choice and wrote a review of that book.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes is an award-winning novel that was written in 1959. Adaptations of the book have taken many forms, including a television drama, an international stage play, even a musical. The most well known adaptation is the movie called Charly.
Flowers for Algernon is about a man named Charlie Gordon. Charlie was born with a low IQ. He gets chosen for an experimental operation that is supposed to make him more intelligent. He is asked to write progress reports about his feelings before and after the operation. The novel is made up of the progress reports. Another character in the book is a mouse named Algernon. He receives the same operation before Charlie and therefore Charlie can gauge what will happen to himself next, based on Algernon’s behavior. For example, Charlie and Algernon race through a simple maze pattern. Algernon always wins the race until one day Charlie is able to complete the maze before Algernon. That is when Charlie realizes he is getting to be as smart as Algernon. This information works in reverse too.
Charlie’s personality changes drastically throughout the book as his intelligence changes. This is hard for both himself and for the people around him. When his IQ is low he is happy and carefree. As he becomes smarter he alienates and intimidates both his friends and his doctors. I believe that what people should take away from this book is that intelligence isn’t everything. He gained intelligence but lost friends. This book is full of conflicts. Smart Charlie vs. intellectually challenged Charlie, Charlie vs. the scientists, could be viewed as Charlie vs. society. And finally Charlie vs. Algernon, which could be seen as person vs. person or perhaps in reality, person vs. animal.
Algernon is my favorite character, even though he doesn’t have any lines in the book he speaks loudly through his movements. His relationship with Charlie is a true friendship. They grow and learn together and build an everlasting bond even through the demise of one of them.
This book is truly enjoyable. I like how in the beginning Charlie’s progress reports are filled with spelling errors. As his intelligence grows one can not only hear the difference in his word patterns but also see the spelling changes. This is a wonderful and clear-cut way to illuminate the stages of Charlie’s growth. I love happy endings and would loved it if Charlie had stayed smart and nothing had happened to Algernon but I realize that those aspects of the book need to happen for the point to come across that the author was trying to make.
There are certain aspects to the book that I can’t relate to because I don’t understand how people think they can accurately measure intelligence and feel that it is so important. What does it mean to be intelligent? Why is intelligence so valued in our society? Charlie was a whole and good person before the operation, why did they need to change him?
I believe that the scientists that performed the experiment on Charlie did not have the right to do it because Charlie was not in a knowledgeable state of mind at the time. It is a big decision to make for someone. I feel that they were taking advantage of Charlie for their own purposes.
The strength of this book would be the wonderful character journey that it took me on. I can’t really think of any weakness’ in the book therefore I would definitely 100% recommend this book. It is a wonderful easy read, and everyone can get something out of reading this book.
6 Top Journal Entries: Over the coarse of this year we all kept a journal, these are my 6 top journal entries because I think they convey the purpose of keeping a journal.
Journal #1: Expectations put on me consist of everything being perfect and right. I feel bad about this and it causes me stress, because every time I do anything I try to make it perfect. I will try to not be a perfectionist in the future.
Journal #2: Dear only white person in the class,
It sounds stressful to you that you are looking around the class and all you can see is the fact that you happen to be the only white person in the class. Do you see anything that you can relate to or have in common with anyone? Why is it that all you are seeing is color?
I understand that it is stressful and uncomfortable, but if you look vulnerable someone could take advantage of that and hurt you. If instead you try to look confidant it could make a difference. Fake it till you make it. That’s a saying that my family always says. It means put on a face that maybe you don’t feel on the inside, but it will seep in if you let it. Sometimes when I’m feeling down I tell myself to just smile and soon I actually feel happy.
Take a moment and imagine months from now. Could you imagine being friends or at least having a conversation with ANY one in the class? I have done experiments about this concept. The results show that if you think strongly about a certain thing, that increases the probability that your goals will come true.
How about seeing if anyone in the room has any of the same interests as you. This could take some time and could possibly kill you, so you might want to wait this one out. But possibly someone could like animals like you may like them or they could like the same kind of food. Or even the same music.
There is always more than meets the eye initially with people. Just like you want people to like you for who you are and give you a chance to show them who you are, you need to do the same for others.
Everyone in the school has preconceived notions about who should hang out with whom and who can get along with who. That is a bunch of shit. We are all people. We all have skin and bones and muscles. Yes, we have our differences but we are made of the same stuff. Accept the differences and embrace the similarities.
I understand, I really do, and I know this is a tough situation, but you need to take responsibility for getting placed in this class. You need to face the fact that you are on the same level as the others academically. Try your best, put on a face that others will want to look at and make friends with.
For all you know they could all be wondering the same thing as you, Why am I in this class? Know where people may be coming from and that you are not alone.
Journal #3: The time that I exceeded my expectations was on the Quarter1 English Benchmark. I didn’t think I would get such a good grade on it. I thought I would get an 80 something but I got a 93. I was pleasantly surprised and felt really good about it. Since I put such high expectations on myself the only time that I have exceeded someone else’s expectations is one time in Jr. High when I wrote a paper about a haunted house and the teacher thought it was exceptional. I feel better when I am writing other than say, doing a math problem. On the rubric for English it says exceeds expectations and it also said I did that a couple of times!
Journal #4: A hero is someone who saves someone or something. A hero is brave. Anyone can be a hero as long as they are doing something good. Not all heros are good people. If someone looks up to you, you are a hero to them. You can be a hero to yourself. A hero can make mistakes but they learn from them.
Journal #5 The group that I wanted to join was a baseball team. I tried out for the team but I didn’t want to get rejected. Before I tried out for that team I was on like 5 other All Star teams. I don’t know why I wouldn’t get on the team, because I was a good player. When I got the call saying I was on the team, I wasn’t really that surprised. When I went to my first practice I saw that everyone on the team was all around the same skill level as me. That’s when I realized that it was not going to be fun for me because I was only having fun when I was much better than everyone else. The people on the team also were not nice. For the rest of the season I complained. I never wanted to go to a practice or a game.
Journal #6: I can’t really reflect on winter break because it went by so fast. Christmas was boring we didn’t do anything. Well, my family went to my grandmom’s house but we didn’t do anything while we were there except eat. Then again if I thought that was boring I should of waited until New Years. I think that was the worst New Years ever!!! My brother had a party at my house while my parents were at some other party. So since I didn’t want to talk to my parents friends I decided to get one of my brothers friends to convince my parents and my brother to let me go home. So I went home and my brother being the bad brother that he is said they were eating food so I would have to sit in another room keeping the dogs away from the food until everyone left. So me being a good brother, I sat with the dogs with nothing to do, for 3 1/2 hours.