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The Things I Carry 2017

I carry my CCSD identification badge and the tracking device contained therein. I carry my keys, guaranteed entrance to most doors in our school, except those most in need of opening.

I carry the burden of expectation, the anxiety borne of the worst kind of perfectionism–the feeling that you are forever letting other people down. I carry the endless list of questions: Am I a good teacher? Am I good enough to make this meaningful? If I cannot make it meaningful to students, does it…

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"America" student poems

Here are some efforts from my English 11 students, using Whitman and, in one case, Hughes as models.

Macie B

 

I see America singing, the varied carols I see,
Those of teenagers, each one singing theirs as it should be emotional and strong,
The attention seeking, singing hers as she spreads another rumor,
The athlete singing his as his final season comes to an unfortunate end,
The alcoholic college kids singing what appears to be a jumbled mess as…

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Thoughts on libraries and loss

I was a weird little kid—anxious and socially awkward, I felt more comfortable with books than I did people. Once, in elementary school, when the power went out, I asked the teacher if I could move my desk over by the window so I could continue reading. Yes, I was that kid.

My elementary librarian shepherded my reading, and it is only now as an adult and a reading teacher that I realize the extent of her gift to me. I hung out in the school library not only because I loved books, but…

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a juxtaposition

"Since an ineluctable part of being a human self is suffering, part of what we humans come to art for is an experience of suffering, necessarily a vicarious experience, more like a "generalization" of suffering. Does this make sense? We all suffer alone in the real world; true empathy's impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to identify with a character's pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own. This is nourishing,…

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Activity

William Polking replied to Paige Caltrider's discussion Wild
"Every journey is a journey of self discovery (literary analysis teaches us this). What does Strayed's journey teach her about her self and the concept of the "self" in general?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Emma Troutman's discussion The Know-It-All
"How does Jacobs' endeavor change his conceptual understanding of "intelligence," and how has your endeavor of reading his book changed your understanding of the same concept?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Emma Tunning's discussion Symphony for the City of the Dead
"Who in contemporary American culture might be said to be similar to Shostakovich, and why do you say so?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Carly Aschinger's discussion Born to Run
"How might cultural differences (put on your cultural lens) account for the amazing ability of the Tarahumara?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Lauren Stork's discussion The Good Soldiers by David Finkel
"How has Finkel's book changed your concept of what it means to be a "good soldier"?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Devon Schweitzer's discussion Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson
"A criticism of Thompson's claim that technology is making us smarter is that he "cherry picks" his examples, and that while humans could be using technology in ways to make themselves smarter, most do not. Respond to this criticism."
Friday
William Polking replied to Kayla Terlisner's discussion My Age of Anxiety
"Stossel has said (maybe in this very book) that if not for his anxiety, he would have been a complete asshole. How might anxiety be seen as a positive trait?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Lily Ladwig's discussion Wild
"Every journey is also a journey of self-discovery (literary analysis teaches us this). What is the self the Strayed discovers through her epic trek?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Taylor Woosley's discussion Newtown by Matthew Lysiak
"On what or whom do you feel the most responsibility for Adam's actions lies? And how does Lysiak apportion the blame?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Emma Snyder's discussion American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers
"Sales presents a bleak picture of what it means to be a teenage girl in contemporary America. As a teenage girl yourself, what claims of hers do you find persuasive, and which do you feel she may be overstating?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Tanner Riesberg's discussion Thank You For Your Service
"How has the nature of modern warfare and the nature of modern life created a perfect storm of mental illness among veterans?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Lucas Thobe's discussion Fear
"What might Junger (or his editors) be wanting his readers to understand by giving the book the simple title of War?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Nathanial C. Boell's discussion American Shaolin by Matthew Polly
"Polly's book is essentially addressing the big question of what it means to be a man. How does Polly's answer change by the end of the book, and more importantly, how has your answer been affected by Polly's journey?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Tyler Hinners's discussion "Our Kids"
"How do you respond to Putnam's main claim of "The American Dream" no longer being attainable for many?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Brad Warner Roberts's discussion Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer
"What might the fact that most are familiar with Tillman's initial enrollment but unfamiliar with the circumstances surrounding his death say about our need for simple stories?"
Friday
William Polking replied to Cooper Ross's discussion Ghettoside by Jill Leovy
"How might urban police departments use Leovy's book to change how they operate?"
Friday
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