Journal 1 Are you excited for school to start? Do you like English? Why/Why not? What did you do this summer? What is the American Dream? Does it still exist? Why/why not? Journal 2 Write about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are? Journal 3 Free Write! Journal 4 Many parents give children a weekly or monthly allowance regardless of their behavior because they believe an allowance teaches children to be financially responsible. Other parents only give children an allowance as a reward for completing chores or when they have behaved properly. Explain what you think parents should do and why. Journal 5 What would you be willing to do for a friend? How far would you go? Explain. Journal 6 In your own opinion, what should happen to someone who commits a crime who isn’t mentally capable of understanding what they did was wrong? Should they be punished just like anyone else? Should they go completely free? Who should decide who is and isn’t capable of making decisions based upon their mental state? Explain. Journal 7 What do you know about the great depression? What do you know about migrant workers? How were minorities treated during this era? What do you think life was like for the majority of these workers? Explain. Journal 8 Do you think George is kind or mean to Lennie? Explain. Do you think that someone could get away with talking to a person like Lennie the way that George does? Why do you think that George puts up with Lennie when he doesn’t necessarily have any reason to stick with him? Journal 9 Pretend you are Curley. Write a diary entry in which you describe your feelings about the events in the story that pertain to you. Be sure to write in the first person, as though you are Curley. Try to imitate his language. You can go beyond simply retelling information that is presented and develop the character a little using your imagination. Journal 10 What aspects in the story Of Mice and Men can you parallel to your own life? Do you think any of the characters are relatable? Explain? Do you think that you could handle the situation that George is in any better? Have you ever had your patience tested to the point where you finally broke down and did something that you are ashamed of? Explain. Journal 11 Pretend you are Crooks. Write a diary entry in which you describe your feelings about the events in the story that pertain to you. Be sure to write in the first person, as though you are Crooks. Try to imitate his language. You can go beyond simply retelling information that is presented and develop the character a little using your imagination. Journal 12 Think of the old cliché: “Home is Where the Heart is”. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? Use specific examples from Of Mice and Men and from real life to explain your answer. Journal 13 Why do some people struggle with knowing where they belong? Can you identify with this struggle? Why or why not? Explain why it is important to have a sense of belonging at your age. Journal 14 Can murder ever be justified? What’s the difference between murder and mercy-killing? Who decides? Do the best-laid plans often go awry? Journal 15 Did you like the ending of the novel? Explain. Why do you think Steinbeck chose to end the story the way he did? What other endings would have been possible, given the circumstances of the story? Journal 16 Free Write! Journal 17 What do you know about the 20’s? From what you know about the 20’s what do you think it would have been like to live during the time? Write a journal entry as a person from the 20’s. Journal 18 You have achieved your dream award / position. Perhaps this is an Oscar or Grammy, a Pulitzer Prize, a political office, a multi-million dollar sports contract, etc. Write your acceptance speech for the occasion. Be sure to thank those who helped you and to tell your audience what it means to accept the award / position. Journal 19 How are economic classes separated in America? Is it just money, or is there more to it? Would you say that it’s relatively easy to cross economic/social classes? For example, can the nouveau riche (newly wealthy— people who win the lottery, for example) simply slip into an upper-class life and be completely accepted? From your own experiences, how well do the classes get along with each other? Explain with examples— positive and negative. Journal 20 In chapter 1 of the Great Gatsby, Daisy discusses her hopes for her daughter. She remarks: “I hope she’ll be a fool-that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” What does Daisy’s remark about her infant daughter tell you about Daisy’s own character? What does it tell you about society in 1922, the year the novel takes place? Journal 21 In real life, F. Scott Fitzgerald had to work hard, amass a fortune, and throw himself into a glamorous social world in order to win the hand of his socialite wife, Zelda. This experience, as well as his difficult marriage with Zelda (who eventually suffered a nervous breakdown) probably complicated his attitude toward women. Discuss the attitude toward women in The Great Gatsby. As you try to establish your argument about women in the novel, closely examine the behavior of the female characters and think about how the narrator, Nick Caraway, describes them. You might also consider the behavior and attitudes of the various male characters toward the female characters. How do the men treat the women? Journal 22 In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald places a great emphasis on our use of symbols, or the significance we place on the objects and people in our lives. For example, to Gatsby, the green light at the end of the Buchanans’ dock, and even Daisy herself, stand for his dream of recreating his happy times with Daisy in Louisville five years ago. To another man, this green light and this woman might be meaningless. Which objects or individuals hold particular significance for you? Journal 23 Jay Gatsby totally reinvents himself. Imagine that as you go off to college, you decide to change your name and to alter large portions of your personal history. Who do you become? *Keep at least one true detail from your past. Journal 24 In The Great Gatsby, Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s marriage is ruled by a double standard. Tom feels that he is free to engage in extramarital affairs, but he is outraged at the thought that his wife might get involved with someone else. Double standards are fairly common in families, in relationships, and even in social institutions. Frequently, what seems to be good for one person is not allowed for another. Make a list of double standards you have experienced or observed. Are they connected in any way? Does there seem to be a logical reason behind any of them, or are they all the result of irrational prejudice? Journal 25 Why might pursuing a dream or goal be more satisfying than actually achieving it? Like Gatsby, have you ever become blindly obsessed with a goal (money, soul mate, vehicle, group membership, G.P.A.,etc)? Were the results destructive for anyone? Explain with examples. Journal 26 At the end of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald suggests that the American Dream has shifted from its original idea of “the pursuit of happiness” to a materialistic pursuit of wealth. Do you agree? Is the American Dream now just a matter of money? A combination of money and happiness? Or does the dream depend on the person? What did you think of the ending of the novel? Explain. Would you suggest the book to someone else? Why/why not? Journal 27 Free Write! Journal 28 Have you ever been in a situation where you had decide if you were going to follow others or put your foot down and go your own direction? Do you think this is a common occurrence for people your age? Why / Why not? If given the opportunity would you do the same thing again? Explain. Is it easier to follow or go your own way? Explain. Journal 29 What do you think it would be like to live in the woods without modern conveniences? Do you think you could live without electricity? Without a car? What if the nearest store was a full day ride roundtrip on horseback to get to the store and buy the necessities like food, clothes, toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo or a toothbrush? Explain. Journal 30 Think about your own life. Was there ever a time when you made the decision to be a non-conformist? Explain the situation and discuss the consequences of your decision. If you have always been a conformist, think about your motivations for that decision. Journal 31 Webster defines Carpe Diem as “enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future”. What does it mean to you? What do you think this meant to the Transcendentalist writers such as Emerson and Thoreau? If you could come up with a modern day slogan to live by what would it be? Explain. Journal 32 Respond to the following quote: "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for." What does this mean to you? Do you think there is any truth behind it? Explain. Journal 33 All-girl schools have been gaining popularity in recent years because of the belief that girls learn better when they aren’t competing with or intimidated by boys, who statistically get more attention in the classroom. Do you think singlesex schools are a good idea? Why or why not? Use speciﬁc reasons and examples to support your position. Journal 34 What is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the word romantic? Explain. If you could describe romanticism in modern times how would you describe it? Do you think that romanticism is still around today? What makes something scary? Explain. What was your favorite story when you were younger and why? (This story can be a family tale, urban legend, town history, or favorite book growing up.) Journal 35 Have you ever heard a rumor spread about someone that you knew wasn’t true? What did you do about it? How do you think rumors start? Why do people continue to spread rumors when they know they may be hurtful? Explain. Has there ever been a false rumor spread about you that was accepted by many as the truth? What were the consequences? Journal 36 Do you think there have been any types of mass hysteria that have broken out recently? Do you think it is possible/likely for it to break out again? Explain. What would you do if people you loved were being accused of something that would result in them being jailed if you knew it wasn’t true? Do you think you could do anything that would actually help? Explain. Journal 37 Write about a time when… 1. You thought you might be in trouble, and you lied to avoid it. 2. You were among a group of people who had trouble getting along . . . what were the underlying problems or motivations among them? 3. Your emotions prevented you from making a good choice. Journal 38 Write about a time when… 1. You found yourself "in over your head" because of a bad choice you made. 2. You made a bad choice that you wish you could go back and change 3. You made a good choice that played a role in who you are today. Journal 39 Write about a time when… 1. You (or someone you observed) was on a "power trip." 2. You were frustrated by the blatant lies someone was telling that everyone believed. Journal 40 Write about a time when… 1. You sacrificed a principle that is important to you for a person that is important to you. 2. You (or someone you know) was asked to "name names" or implicate others in a problematic situation. Journal 41 Write about a time when… 1. You pretended to be something or someone you are not. 2. You became totally disillusioned with someone or something that you believed in. Journal 42 Write about a time when… 1. You were afraid to admit you were wrong. 2. You gave up something or someone important to you for a principle. Journal 43 Can you think of any examples of a modern day witch hunt? What took place? What kind of things drive witch hunts? Explain. Do you feel like you have ever been part of a witch hunt put on by your parents or the school? Explain. Journal 1 How did you do last semester? Did you meet your expectations in your classes? Do you think your parents will be happy with your grades? What are you going to do differently this semester? What is your expectation for a grade in this class? Explain. Journal 2 Some said that Obama’s election marked the beginning of a post-racial society in America. Do you agree? Why or why not? Do you think that racism is still a big problem in our country? Explain. Journal 3 Think back to your childhood. Most of you probably remember having a great imagination, or can see that imagination run wild through a younger sibling. Write a detailed account of one of your adventures from your childhood. If you can’t remember one, make one up. Journal 4 “Try to learn something about everything and everything about something." - Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) Respond… Journal 5 Huck has mentioned in the text that being on the raft, going down the river, is where he feels safest and free. The horrors of society among shore drive him to get back on the river many times throughout the novel. Describe your safe place. Think of someplace you go to “get away.” If you “don’t have a place to escape” imagine what your dream escape might look like. • Be descriptive, give specific details • Explain why it gives you that freedom, or the feeling of escape Journal 6 Have you ever been in a position where you felt like you should tattle on someone? What did you do? If you could go back would you have done the same thing? Why / why not? Has anyone ever told on you? What happened because of it? Explain. Journal 7 Have you ever been in an accident of some kind that really scared you? Were you able to think clearly? Do you think the others involved were able to think clearly? Explain. If not, what do you think you would do if you were involved in an accident? Journal 8 Have you ever played a good joke on anyone? What was their reaction? Has anyone ever played one on you? What was your reaction? If not, do you think it is okay for people to do so? Explain. Journal 9 Could you, as Huck does when he helps Jim evade capture, do something you had been taught all your life was wrong? Explain. Why is Huck able to ignore his “conscience” and follow his heart? Journal 10 Who is the most “moral” character in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? Who is the least “moral”? Explain. How do you define morality in these cases? Journal 11 What is the significance of Huck coming to the realization that “you can’t pray a lie”? Explain. What is the significance of Huck stating “All right then, I’ll go to hell”? Explain. Do you think that Twain’s novel would still be considered a “classic” without these powerful statements? Explain. Journal 12 How do you think Tom Sawyer would plan Jims escape compared to Huck Finn? Explain. Come up with a Romantic plan to help Jim escape. Journal 13 Do you think that this generation of kids (8 and younger) have lost their creative side of the imagination? Explain. Have you ever played a make believe game with a kid much younger than you? Were you willing to do everything that they asked? Explain. Do you think that Jim goes along with Tom’s plan just to make him and Huck happy? Explain. Journal 14 Ernest Hemingway once said that all American literature came from one book: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. According to Hemingway, it’s “the best book we’ve got.” However, other scholars and students of literature dare to disagree with this assessment. Examine the novel Huck Finn as a masterpiece of American literature. Does it deserve a place in the canon of Great Books? Support or refute Ernest Hemingway’s claim. Take a stand for or against the inclusion of this novel as required high school reading. Develop your reasons for or against the novel’s stature as an icon of American literature. Provide specific and intelligent reasons, and support those reasons with specific examples from the novel. You will also need to examine American society (and its students) today, as contrasted with society in the past. Journal 15 The ending of Huck Finn has been criticized as abrupt, shallow, and unsatisfying. What are the aspects you consider the most compelling or the most frustrating? What does the ending do to your perception of Huck as a character? Journal 16 Free Write! Journal 17 Good habits improve our physical, emotional, and/or financial health. Select one of your good habits and write a response persuading readers to make that habit a part of their lives. Journal 18 To what extent is technology today fostering intelligence or ignorance? Explain. Journal 19 Respond to the following statements: • Television is a great source of news about important issues facing the American people. • Most people in the US spend most of their free time watching TV. • Control of citizens by the government is fine if it reduces conflict and violence in a country. • Censorship of books is really not an issue today. • The great books are essential to enabling humans to be truly happy. • True happiness consists of having fun with friends. • The average person in the US is rich compared to the average in other countries. • Differences in wealth among countries is a source of bitterness and war. • Watching or playing sports is actually more important than conversations about ideas or world affairs. • Advances in technology have made life richer and people happier in the US. • People who resist government policies which they think are wrong should be valued by society. Journal 20 Are you excited for Spring Break? Are you going to go anywhere? What are your plans? What was the best Spring Break you have ever had? What was the worst? Explain. Journal 21 How would you get by if the society we lived in was a dystopian world (Similar to the Hunger Games, or Divergent)? Do you think that you would be part of the rebellion, or would you fall in line and try not to ruffle any feathers? Do you think that you would be able to survive? Explain. How do you think you did on your college research essay? Do you think the instructions and expectations for the paper were clear? If I spent more time explaining the assignment and gave you the opportunity to “fix” your paper before grading it would you take advantage of the opportunity? Explain. Journal 22 Clarisse asks Guy, “Are you happy?” And it rattles his entire existence. Now you will answer the same question: “Are you HAPPY?” Explain why or why not. If we decided to burn books in our own society today, what type of books would be burn? Would some of them be kept in a library? Explain. Journal 23 Describe the society (a fictional America) that Montag lives in. In what ways is it similar to, but more extreme than, our society? What signs are there that it is a “dystopia” (the opposite of a utopia, an ideal society)? What makes Clarisse so special—so different from most people in her society? What qualities does Montag have that make him receptive to her influence? Why do you think the mechanical hound has been programmed to react to Montag? Why do you think the woman chooses to burn herself along with her books? Why does this have such a powerful effect on Montag—what does it mean to him? Journal 24 What would viewers see if your life were a movie? Do you think that it would be a blockbuster hit, or would it bomb at the theatres? Explain. Is there anything that you would be embarrassed to share with the world? What if your messages on your cell phone was shared with the world? Journal 25 Free Write! Journal 26 What are your thoughts on the SAT? How do you think you did? Did you study for it? Based on the college you researched, what do you need to score on it? Do you have any plans to take the ACT, or retake the SAT? Journal 27 Why is Truman’s perfect life an unacceptable life? How would you feel if you were in his situation? Explain. Journal 28 Write a movie review on the Truman Show. Write it as if you are writing the review for a magazine or newspaper. What aspects of the movie are really good, and really bad. Journal 29 Bradbury is suggesting that books do more than just teach. In fact, throughout the text, he implies that the absence of books is responsible for every negative feature of the society. According to Bradbury, books do more than just teach facts. Books promote intelligence and prevent ignorance. Write a persuasive response that takes a position agreeing or disagreeing with Bradbury’s 1953 forecast for the future. Do you agree with Bradbury’s prophesy based on what you see in current society and recent history? Journal 30 Who had it worse, Truman Burbank or Guy Montag? Explain. Have you been thinking about college or trade school seriously? Do you know what you need to do to get into the schools that you are interested in? Explain. Journal 31 What are your thoughts on the book? What parallels do you see between F – 451 and modern society? Write a book review for the novel. Would you recommend it for others to read? Would you put it on the banned book list? Explain. Journal 32 If you were to meet your favorite teacher or coach 16 years from now, what would you hope the meeting would be like? Do you think you would be a different person then? How so? If you found out that you had a terminal illness and had only a short time left to live, how would you spend your time left? Do you think that you could be happy and at peace with your situation during those last days? Why or why not? Journal 33 Respond to the following Quote… “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson Journal 34 If you could take a class with the subject simply being LIFE, what important life lessons should be included in the curriculum and how should they be taught? How do you feel about crying in front of other people? How do you feel when someone cries in front of you? How do you usually react? Journal 35 What are your beliefs about death and the afterlife? Do you fear death? Why or why not? If you were to die in the near future, would you feel satisfied with how you have lived your life? What would you do differently, if anything? What do you fear most in life? Why? How do you deal with these fears? Journal 36 How do feel about the fact that you are going to get old some day? How do you think you will cope with it? What do you think will be the worst part about growing old? What will be the best part about it? Do you consider yourself a greedy person or not? Explain and give examples. Do you feel that being greedy is always a bad thing? Why or why not? Journal 37 What are your beliefs about marriage? For example, do you believe in the traditional vows: For better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer and until death do us part? Why or why not? Also, is unconditional love really possible? Finally, when, if ever, is divorce okay? Have you ever had a problem forgiving another person? If so, why? Is there someone that you wish could forgive you? Who do you think is hurt the most when someone can’t forgive another person? Why? Also, is forgiveness always necessary? Why or why not? Journal 38 In your opinion, how would you describe a meaningful life? What is most important in achieving a meaningful life? How can one survive within a society that bombards us with what we should buy, how we should live, what we should look like and how we should think? What is it in your life right now that is frustrating you and/or creating stress for you? How do you deal with it? What can you do to change it? Journal 39 Describe your perfect day. Who would be with you? Where would you go? What would you do? What type of things would you talk about? Journal 40 How are your grades? Are your parents aware of where you stand in your classes? Make a pitch for the grade you deserve in this class. What are your plans for summer? Are you going to get to do anything fun or exciting? What was the best/worst summer you have ever had? Explain.