Fireside Chat

This week we are introducing skill builder assignments in addition to reading. Since I’ll be at a professional educator conference on Friday, there’ll be no discussion. Next week, we’ll start class discussions.


Next Monday you will have a quiz on NFD 9-end (including the Appendix and Parody).


Narrative of Frederick Douglass



  1. NFD Chapters 9-end (including Appendix and Parody)

Skill Builder

On a piece of loose leaf paper, answer each of the following questions with 2-3 strong, descriptive sentences. Turn in the sheet of paper for grading.

College Essay

We will resume our college essay meetings next week. You should have already typed up your brainstorm on the Google Doc (see the 1/11-17/2016 post). If you haven’t, do that this week. (Confused? Ask me how!) You will receive a 0 if the page is blank when we sit down to chat.


Reading circles: Each person in your group reads the chapter independently, then discusses it together. Work together during the discussion to complete the skill builder assignment for that chapter.

Group reading: Read aloud to each other, one paragraph at a time. Stop to address confusion along the way.

Leverage your teacher / professor: Read a chapter, alone or independently, then call Mr. Schiffres over when there to explain confusing sections. You can also ask Mr. S to read aloud with you, or just work in your vicinity.

Questions first: Read a chapter’s questions first, then keep them in mind as you work your way through the chapter.

Notes: Take notes in your notebook as you work through the chapters, writing down key events, names, thoughts, questions, important quotations, etc.

College essay: Choose one day this week that you are going to complete this brainstorm and type it up. Be strategic and deliberate. Don’t just leave it until other work is done; you might push it off forever.


FDN: I surveyed a student your age at Ladue. Her class meets every other day. They are assigned 175 pages per week, all read at home, then asked to tweet their questions / ideas as they go. Class time is reserved for discussions. At the end of each book, they spend a week writing a 4-page essay. I asked her if they completed worksheets, and she looked insulted. She hasn’t done a worksheet for English since 6th grade, she said.

The Ladue experience, and what we’re working toward at Jennings, is preparing her for college. Managing your time to read longer texts is the basis of any Humanities class in college. Starting next week, we’ll introduce discussions on our reading.

College essay: This is pretty self-evident. It’s best for you to start working on this when I can easily advise and edit your work.

Extra, Extra!

Douglass is writing immediately before the Civil War, fought primarily over the issue of slavery. Here are two of the most famous Northern (Union) marching songs.

Battle Cry of Freedom: (notable lyrics: “We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true and brave,
 / Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
 / And although he may be poor, he shall never be a slave,
 / Shouting the battle cry of freedom!”)

Battle Hymn of the Republic: (notable lyrics: “As [Christ] died to make men holy / Let us die to make men free / While God is marching on”)

And the most famous Southern (Confederate) marching song:

Dixie(notable lyrics: “Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton, / Old times there are not forgotten, / Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land. / In Dixie Land, where I was born in, / early on one frosty mornin”)

Grade Update