Friday, January 14, 2011


Please check the grade book to see if you have any missing assignments. If there is a zero listed and it also says absent, then you may make the assignment up by the end of next week. A few assignments have not yet been entered, like the reading logs and blog grades. They will be posted by early next week.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis

The Blind Side is an uplifting story about a young athletically gifted black teenager named Michael Oher. The son of a crack-addicted mother and murdered father, Michael has never had an easy or privileged life. He has no confidence, a high school GPA of 0.6, and nowhere to live. The only thing he has going for him is his size and strength on the field that gives him the chance as a future NFL left tackle. Sean Tuohy, the father of a girl in one of Michael’s classes, is a very rich and powerful white man who has been known to help impoverished students in the past. The family reaches out to Michael by offering him food and clothes, and as the story line progresses, they eventually take him in as one of their own.

1. Mrs. Tuohy is skeptical at first about helping Michael. If you had the opportunity to help someone who was in a situation like Michael, would you?

2. On the other side of thing, if you were in Michael’s situation, would you accept help from people you hardly knew? Consider the betrayal that Michael has faced in the past with his own family. Would you be willing to trust again?

3. Michael Lewis writes this book to show that even a little caring and compassion can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. Why do you think most people are usually so reluctant to give to those in need?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Four best friends since birth were going to be apart for the summer their first time ever. Right before they go their separate ways, they find a pair of pants that strangely fits all of them. They decide to share them and send them to each other throughout their time away. Carmen's going to South Carolina to visit her dad, Bridget is off to soccer camp, Lena's off to Greece to visit her family, and Tibby is staying home and working. Over their vacation, they each encounter a few of their own problems. Carmen goes to her dad's to catch up after he left her and her mother, but is surprised to find that he is engaged again. When Bridget is at camp, she falls in love with her soccer coach. At first, he hesitates to follow her lead, but he soon changes his mind and gives in. When Bridget realizes that it won't work out, all she wants is to talk to her mother who had passed away a few years ago. While in Greece, Lena falls in love with a Kostos. She soon finds out that she is forbidden to talk to him because of a family feud. While Tibby is working a Wallman's, she meets a young girl named Bailey. At first she is annoyed that Bailey is always around, but once she finds out that she has leukemia, she feels much differently. Tibby grows very attached to her and gets a new perspective on life. Although each of these girls have many problems while away from each other, the pants help them realize that they are all there for each other.

1.) Why does it take some people a near death experience or the loss of a loved one to live the way they should?

2.) Carmen's dad doesn't tell her that he is engaged to a women with two kids her age, so she thinks when she visits it is going to just be her and him. Should he have told her about his fiancé even if it meant she would decide not to go? What would you do if you were in her place?

3.) Even though Lena is told not to talk to Kostas because of the family feud, she continues to see him anyways. What would you do if you were in her place? Where do you draw the line between following your heart and your family?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why, a New York Times Bestseller novel by Jay Asher, focuses on two main characters, Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker, who narrate the story. Clay Jensen comes home from school to find a package addressed to him sitting on the porch. There is no return address on the package, but when he opens it to reveal the contents he finds seven loose audiotapes marked front and back with numbers 1 though 13. He begins listening to the audiotapes and discovers they have been recorded by Hannah Baker, Clay’s former classmate and crush who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there were thirteen reasons why she ended her life. The tapes were initially mailed to one classmate with instructions to pass them from one student to another, in the style of a chain letter. Curiosity and fear of exposure keep the people on the list listening to the tapes and passing them on. We hear the tapes through Clay’s time with them and learn additional information about Hannah and the rumors about her through Clay’s reactions and thoughts about the tapes. If Clay listens through to the end, he will find out how he made the list. The book takes you on an emotional journey filled with the desperation and depression Hannah went through in her short lived life. The tapes include 11 of her fellow students and her guidance counselor who through immature acts of gossip, lies, and ignorance drive her to an emotional detachment from her life eventually resulting in her decision of suicide. The novel makes you think about how a small negative action can take on a snowball-like affect, ruining a reputation, and potentially ending a life.

Discussion Questions:

Being in high school there are always rumors going around, has a rumor about yourself ever gotten back to you? Did you try to disprove the rumor or confront the person you believe started it, or did you just chose to ignore it and move on?

Many of the people on Hannah’s tapes were people she at some point took to be her friends. Have you ever been betrayed by someone you thought of as a friend?

One of Hannah’s tapes involves a boy named Justin who at a party allows a rape to take place in a guest bedroom with his classmate Jessica who, after drinking heavily, passes out unconscious. It is easy to claim you would never allow an act of indecency like this happen, but in a similar situation do you think you would be brave enough to tell the star quarterback with a violent history about what is morally right or wrong? How would you handle this situation?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pop Goes the Weasel

Pop Goes the Weasel is a one of James Patterson’s many detective novels. In this particular story D.C. detective, Alex Cross, is faced with not one but four killers. They call themselves the “Four Horsemen”. This name stems from the four horsemen of the apoxolypse: Death, Famine, War, and Pestilence. These men met back when they were in the service together and now, many years later, they live spread across the world. At first it started as a game; their own twisted fantasy. They would make up grusome stories to tell eachother every week. Soon the stories turned into realities as they could no longer supress their sadistic urges. The worst of the four is, not surprisingly, “Death” who lives in Washington D.C. Death is played by Geoffrey Shafer. He is a seemingly normal, upper-class man with a wife and children. He is also a part of the British Embassy and noone would ever suspect him of the violent homoscides taking place in the city. At first noone notices the pattern emerging because Death only targets prostitutes in the bad part of town. Alex Cross is one of the few people who take an interest in investigating the deaths and as he gets closer to solving the case he finds himself thrown right into the middle of the fantasy. Now that Cross is playing the game, the Horsemen decide to meet up in person once again. While on a relaxing vacation with his family Alex Cross proposes to his girlfriend and only days later she is kiddnapped by the Horsemen. He races to identify the Four Horsemen, save his fiancee, and end the game once and for all.

1. Because the victims were prostitutes from a poor, mainly black, area of D.C. not many people cared about the rising body count. Alex Cross had to go against the orders of his superiors in order to investigate this case. Would you risk getting fired to catch the killer of people society deemed “undesirable”?

2. The Horsemen went from telling made up stories to actually killing. Has there ever been a time in your life when something that started merely as a game or joke escalated into something much more?

Angels and Demons

Dan Brown's book Angles and Demons is a mystery novel about the adventures of Robert Langdon. This book is before the better know Da Vinci Code. It involves his journey through The Vatican City. The pope has recently died and a body is found in a physicist's lab. The body is branded with the symbol of an ancient society the Illuminati, an ancient scientist group, the Illuminati also stole a canister of anti-matter which in 24 hours will level the Vatican. Langdon goes on a quest to find it following the ancient "Path of Illumination" which leads him to four different locations each a different element: fire, air, earth, and water. At each spot one of the candidates to succeed the pope is murdered. Finally their search leads them back to the Pope's chambers. Where the leader of the company that lost the anti-matter is confronting the pope. Langdon believes the he is the leader of the Illuminati. The pope gets branded by the Illuminati Diamond and guards come in and kill the leader of the lab. Before the leader dies he gives Langdon a tape. It turns out that the old Pope had a kid the new Pope found out and killed him. Planted the bomb to make himself look like a hero.

1) Do you think that secret societies still exist and are active under our noses?

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

While in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum. Near the body, police have found a baffling cipher. Solving the enigmatic riddle, Langdon is stunned to discover it leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci --- clues visible for all to see, and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter. Langdon joins forces with a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, and learns the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion, an actual secret society.

In a breathless race through Paris, London and beyond, Langdon and Neveu match wits with a faceless powerbroker who appears to work for Opus Dei --- a clandestine, Vatican-sanctioned Catholic organization believed to have long plotted to seize the Priory's secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle in time, the Priory's secret --- and a stunning historical truth --- will be lost forever

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you believe that conspiracy theories regarding religion truly exist and that societies guard these secrets from the public?

2. What do you think would happen to people's beliefs if they found out that religion was no longer based on belief, but based on known facts?