Lesson Plans!

Today I worked all day — PARCC remediation all morning and lesson plan writing all afternoon. I worked primarily on collecting the resources I use for three “group work” assignments: Monsters (Frankenstein), “A Wreath for Emmett Till” sonnet sequence, and Macbeth. All three lessons work similarly, and most kids like them. Before or after reading a piece of literature, students work in groups to present some outside research about or related to the work. We had done “What is a monster?” before reading Frankenstein to study people throughout history who could be considered a monster. This week I will be teaching the sonnet sequence “A Wreath for Emmett Till.” It follows our study of sonnet structure and Shakespearean sonnets, but it is a more contemporary topic and obviously relevant today. The groups look at the art, do research on the history or recent related topics, the poet and methods of narration. Before I teach Macbeth, the groups work on areas related to the psychology of good and evil. All the lessons give students practice in reading, writing and presenting and they give plenty of good ideas for future writing assignments.

Anyway, I am being observed this week so I needed to do a lot of paper work for the pre-conference. Since I am using the Emmett Till lesson, I did manage to kill two birds with one stone. Still have a lot to do…

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!


Stuff I Forgot

So after talking tonight, I realized that I had a whole lot of information that I totally forgot to post. I guess you could say I forgot because I didn’t write it down… Bad joke, sorry.

I feel I should mention that I began wiping off the film cobwebs. I started doing some research in filming. I looked up some shot and angle names I could coordinate into the direction of the pilot. I think this will allow the reader to have a better idea of how the scenes will look once filmed. Also, this helps show where the intensity and focus should be. (because I’ll eventually run out of room for direction). Also also, for the sake of communicating, this helps the director and actors reading the script. I know, I know… I’m jumping ahead.

I was ridiculously nervous to have everyone read my scene tonight. Because, well, the first draft is always crap. I just wanna get super sappy for a second and say that tonight meant so much to me. The fact that everyone took the time to read through my scene (even though it was only three pages), made me feel like I’m doing some real stuff here. It didn’t really feel real until tonight. So thanks, for making me and my writing feel real.

Finally, Dr. Z requested two scenes for next week. Depending on how crazy things get, I hope to have them both completed. However, if things get crazy, I may only have one. I don’t expect us to read through everything though. I know that everyone has a whole bunch of things to do. But, I’m just going to sit here and pretend we are, because it will light a fire under my bottom. My bottom need to be on fire until I graduate.

I hope to post another blog about the process soon.

Scene Queen

Well, not really… But I’m just happy I was finally able to begin the painful process of starting to write again. Also, this piece may be garbage (just like the cold open). I don’t think I care too much though. It’s my garbage. It doesn’t have to be garbage forever. But for now it’s garbage and it’s mine, and it’s done.

I thought a while about what random scene to write, and then just became inspired by continuing the story. It doesn’t have to stay where it is but I like it there for now. It would also make sense adding this scene at the end of the pilot. I had a vague idea of how I wanted to continue the story.

My improv skills kind of helped me. Whenever I got stuck, I remembered that “action moves the story forward.” – every improv teacher. ever. When I was stuck, I thought about how the characters could get in trouble. Getting in and out of trouble is something I’ve notice rather consistent in storytelling.

Feb 3

My first thought in reading the pieces for this week was that these are all strategies that everybody needs to apply to the rhetoric surrounding this upcoming election. The amount of unverified and unsupported claims and flat out bullshit spouted by not just the candidates but by tons of people in the media in staggering. I know who I’m thinking of, but that isn’t exactly the point here. More importantly in this context, what we’re talking about in general is the need for people to examine their sources. To think critically. Actually, what the combined list of readings for this week really points to, alarmingly, is the need for people to be reminded to think critically. Excuse me, sir? My colleagues and I in this field got together, and it’s looking like you’re out here just swallowing whole every single thing you see online. Please stop. I didn’t think that this habit of taking for granted that everything you see is true was a new thing. I thought it already had a name. I thought it was called being gullible. You might say that people of my general age grew up in a time when we got to mess around with computer and the internet and learn their ways, making us predisposed to have strong “bullshit detectors” and that would certainly be true. I spent way too much time on my family’s computer during my teenage years. Any computer really, wherever I could get time on one. My friends and my classmates and total strangers and I spent a lot of that time exploring. We directed each other to things of shared interest, conferred with one another with varying degrees of privacy, schemed and planned and chatted and speculated, and sometimes tried to trick each other. We’d use new or fake accounts to impersonate someone or invent a totally new identity, always to a different end but always inherently with the intent to deceive. Not in a scary murderer or catfish way, but as a way of play. The same way kids ask each other to join the PEN15 Club or ask them to pronounce I-C-U-P. Like a knock-knock joke or a jump scare. Setting up your friends, messing with them. Of course some people are worse than others and do and have used the internet and anonymity to do awful things, but that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m getting at is the need, as a navigator of this communication-scape, to evaluate everything that came your way. Every invitation, every declaration, (especially of love, those were dangerous [and mean]) every fact(oid). Everything. Because it could all be somebody else messing with you before the big reveal at school the next day. Over time, the skills, or not quite skills but ways of being (literacy is probably the right word) turned into something incomparably valuable in terms of living and working in a world that has turned increasingly toward digital networked everything. But this doesn’t mean that myself and all the animals I went to high school with should be the only people who know how to use the internet. All those little tricks that I mentioned before, the schoolyard games, happened before any of us knew anything about the internet, and for generation before that. Ever heard a joke about a guy having a bridge to sell you? The central premise here is gullibility. Somebody believing something, without credible evidence, that they shouldn’t. One of the readings mentioned the author’s daughter and a conversation (probably embellished from real life, if not entirely contrived for the purpose of making this exact point, mind you) about how the internet is different from a library book because it is unreliable. I would argue against that point. Maybe in a time when everyone had a sunnier impression of the world in general it was thought that people in publishing could be depended on to tell the truth without an angle. But even with the vetting process that we all hope (perhaps naively and largely with no actual evidence or experiential knowledge of our own [think about it]) goes into publishing a book, its a personally ill-conceived and distinctly unacademic strategy to believe everything you read in a book without corroborating even well-argued claims with other sources. Therefore, double checking to make sure the website you’re reading isn’t some new skill that I picked up because I lucked into being born in the 80s. It’s just the natural extension of a skill we’re all supposed to have learned in life to the realm of web publishing. Critical thinking and close reading and problem solving are all things we’re supposed to have been taught in school, and should have learned to apply to different situation in our lives. Granted, somebody who isn’t familiar with how websites work might not necessarily have the tools and the literacy to know how to go about vetting a source like that, and that is where the one reading from the Salon.com editor is really useful. I’m sorry if this is getting a little ranty. Talking about detecting bullshit has really drawn out a lot of frustration I feel like every day of my life. I’m done now.



Plot Twisted.

This blog is for last week (i’m a bit behind in updating this).

So last week, I reached a point of another mild panic attack. I realized that I’m plotless. I have an idea but I haven’t figured out exactly where I’m going to take it. I feel like, there’s a lot of work, research, time, and effort put into the idea of this. I want the pilot to reflect this work.

I don’t want to fall into traps of a basic, or plain, or boring, or it’s been done so many times before plot line. I also think I’m focusing too much on the bigger picture here. Matt said something awesome that kind of made me realize something. No one expects me to get it right the first time. It’s going to be a work in progress. Like, duh, Stina. So perfectionism has gone out the window. Here’s to starting out with rubbish!

I plan to post a blog before our class Thursday with more of my updates I wanted to get last week’s blog out of the way with all of my issues first. More updates to follow.

Al-Anon Meeting

Thursday I left class early to attend a Al-anon meeting at a baptist church in Union. I was running a little late because I did not anticipate the traffic getting out of the parking lot and on to Morris avenue. I arrived at the church about 10 minutes late. I was so anxious because I really didn’t want to join the meeting late. When I walked in the place was deserted. I found a church member who said that the meeting for that night had been cancelled last minute. Of course, the one night I had decided to attend there was no meeting. Part of me was relieved due to my lateness but the other part of me was disappointed because I finally felt ready to participate in a meeting.

This has been a long time coming for me. As a teen I tried to attend an al-ateen meeting. I broke down in tears the day I was supposed to attend. My aunt who was going to drive me there turned right around when I started sobbing in the car. She told me I wasn’t ready yet and when I was I would find the strength to go on my own. She was right, and about 10 years later I feel ready. I returned home to search on the website again for other meetings. I found a meeting in Cranford at 7:30 on Thursday nights. I will be attending that this week and I found a meeting in Rahway which is down the street from my house on Mondays. I am hoping to switch my schedule at work to attend this meeting.

I was looking forward to this for my creative process and to hopefully get some ideas for character development and plot format for my book but I guess I will have to focus on that in my book. Maybe I can take this experience and turn it in to something Amanda can experience in my book. I am excited to get some writing done in the next few days. I have been exhausted from late nights at my job but this is my last semester and I would be crazy to start slacking off now.

See you all Thursday!


**Update: I decided against attending an Al-Anon meeting. I want Amanda’s story to be as accurate as possible but also as fictional as possible. I felt that going to an Al-Anon meeting would bring up old feelings from the past and I didn’t want that to cloud my judgement on how this novel should play out.