The Passion Project

Project Outline and Expectations

Please choose a topic that you are passionate about—something that does not feel like work, instead it should feel like a joy to learn and think about.

Next, I would like you to design your course of study and outcomes.  I will help you with this design, with guidelines, but I want you to be the person who makes this project happen the way you imagine it.

You will have a lot of freedom in the planning and creation of this project, I want to make it clear what my expectations are. You will need to do the following in order to succeed in this unit and pass this class:

1. NOVEL of CHOICE—you must read a book related to the topic.  This book MUST be a novel.  (If you have found other books that will help you in your process, GREAT, please include these in your bibliography, but they do not replace your need to find and read a novel.)

  • Have novel by Tuesday, April 4th!
  • In-Class Reading Reflection: Thursday, April 27th (100 pts.)

2.  INTERVIEW—I would like you to interview someone who is related in some way to your topic.  For example, if I am doing a project on Ashtanga yoga, I will then interview an Ashtanga teacher.  If your project is on the art of comic strips, you can interview someone who creates comics.  If your project is on painting, interview an artist.

  • scheduled by: Thursday, April 13th;
  • completed by: Tuesday, April 25th;
  • written reflection due: Monday, May 1st  (200 pts.)

3.  ART or VISUAL—I would like you to CREATE an artistic or visual expression of your topic.  Write a reflection about this creation too! Please be sure your project includes/shows your connection to this subject.  This may be a photo essay, an art piece, an essay, a recording, a film, a comic strip, a fiction piece, etc.

DUE: Friday, May 5th (100 pts. + 100 pts. for the written reflection.)

4. WRITING of CHOICE—create a 2-3 page written response that connects to your project.  This could be a rationale, or some other form of writing that relates to your passion.  For example, if your passion is music-related, your writing of choice might be some original lyrics.  If your passion is film-related, you might write a screenplay.  Check with me if you have any questions about what to write.

Due: Friday, May 5th (200 pts.)

5.  TEACHING—create a 20-minute lesson for the class in which you teach us about your topic.  Plan to hit the following three points: 1. What does your topic involve/how does it work? 2. What is your connection/history as related to your topic, and 3. Involve the class in your topic in some kind of interactive way (LOTS of possibilities here!  I will help you decide on a good plan).   Lessons will start Friday, May 5th, and run through Thursday, May 25th.  Your presentation MUST involve others, teach about your topic, and unveil your passion.

Due: various days in May. (200 pts.)

6. REFLECTION LETTER—a final, in-class response about your project.  We’ll do this on the last day of class: (Sr. Finals) Tuesday, May 30th; (100 pts.)

Use STANDARD FORMAT for all writing (12 pt font, standard margins, 1.5 spacing)

Total Project: 1000 pts.!

NOTE: the above expectations are exit requirements for this project and for this class.  You may not pass this class if these requirements are not met and met on schedule.

Is that all?

Of course not!  We’ll have several in-class assignments, some connected to the passion project, some not so much, but all worth points!

Passion Project Chronological Due Dates:

Check          Points                   Assignment                               Due

______          100              In-Class Book Write                    4/27

______          200              Interview Write-Up                     5/1

______          200              Art with Written Reflection     5/5

______          200              Writing of Choice                           5/5

______          200              Teaching                                          May

______          100              In-Class Final Reflection            5/30


Future Trip: thinking like a sci-fi writer.

Our next unit began today, 3/14 and will end with brief, in-class presentations on Monday 3/20.  The goal of the unit is to imagine ourselves as sci-fi writers/thinkers and to project the future of a currently existing system or technology.

You’ll choose a topic, educate yourself about it, and then imagine how it will look in the future.  You’ll type up your findings and projections in a 1-page abstract which you will read to the class when we share our work on Monday 3/20.

Tuesday 3/14 (PI day): Introduce unit, pre-write and brainstorm. Chromebooks will be here:  Research your topic..

Thurs 3/16, 10: Chromebooks will be here:  Write your abstract.

Mon 3/20: Present your abstract to the class.

The project is worth up to 150 points.  75 for a well-written abstract, and 75 for presenting it on Monday 3/20.

The Imaginary Land Symposium

On Friday 3/10 we will bring our Imaginary Lands unit to a close with a forum, a symposium, a sharing, a… whatever!  We’re going to share our maps and stories.

For 50 easy points, be prepared by being ready to share your map and your story with the class.

These points are ONLY available on 3/10 to participants in the class event.  They can not be made up later.

Map Making Site

Inkarnate is a great tool for the cartographically challenged (folks who can’t draw maps!)

You’ll need to create a simple (email/password) account.  Once you’ve done that, you can create beautiful, large, detailed, colorful imaginary lands.  Try this out if you’re lacking inspiration, feeling desperate, or doubting your artistic abilities.  No judgement! 😉

Writing Help for Imaginary Lands Stories

The final draft of your imaginary lands story will be due on Friday 3/10.

On Friday 2/17 we discussed the “hero’s journey” and talked about how to apply it to writing imaginary lands stories in the hopes that it might help you get around any existing writer’s blocks.  There are many online sources that can give you more details on the hero’s journey.  Here is one:

And for the visual learners, try this fun one:Hero’s Journey Board Game

On Wednesday 2/22, we focused on “one small thing and a song”.  Start by sketching a small detail from your imaginary land (architectural, flora/fauna, clothing, a foot or a hand… anything! Imagine holding a magnifying glass up to some tiny thing in your imaginary land).  Next write a description of what you drew.  Lastly, create a short poem or song that relates a custom or history in your world (think of the sorting hat’s song from Harry Potter, or one of Gandalf’s historical battle poems from LOTR).

Add these into your Imaginary Land and see what happens!

And, we solidified the “real world” details of our imaginary lands by writing about:

  • People: What are the different types of people/sentient creatures?  What are the species called?  How are they differentiated?  What variations occur within each species?
  • Social Organization: How is the world ruled/governed?  What type of government is it?  How did it come to be?  What religions are practiced?  How much equality/freedom exists for people?  What sorts of wars/conflicts (current and historical)?
  • Cities: What is each city/town/village called?  What is the population?  What races make up the place?  What is the economic support for the city?  Industry, agriculture, etc…

Happy writing!

Imaginary Lands Unit

For the Imaginary Lands unit, you will

  • Read a book that takes place in an imaginary land.
  • Create your OWN original imaginary land with map!
  • Write imaginary land stories that take place in the land you created.
  • Present your Map and Stories to the class.

Imaginary Lands work and due dates:

Imaginary Lands Reading Book:

Read a book that takes place in an imaginary land.  Start reading it this week and start bringing it next class!  Plan to write a two-page response when you finish reading.  The reading reflection will include: a) how does the hero’s journey compare to “The Hero’s Journey” aka “monomyth” that we discussed in class, b) sharing a detail of the imaginary land in the book, and c) discussing what point/lesson/comment your author might be making about the real world via the imaginary land in the book. Be prepared to share a quote/text example to support your ideas!

  • Book w/ you in Class: NOW
  • Written Response: Wednesday, March 8th

Map of your Imaginary Land :

A large, well-detailed, colorful map that includes:

  • Title
  • legend/compass
  • one-page explanation/history of the land

Rough draft check: mid-Feb.
Final Map Due: Friday, March 10th

Scoring: 150 pts for a map that is: Large, Detailed, Colorful, and includes a 1-Page Description.  -10 points for each element that is lacking.  (eg. A map that is Large and Detailed, but lacks Color and Description gets 130 points)

Imaginary Lands Writing:

Several short legends/stories from your Imaginary Land  OR The first chapters of your Imaginary Land novel.

Notes and Ideas to Consider:

  • Table of Contents
  • Cover
  • Location: can you get there from here? Or not!?
  • Time: does your imaginary land use normal “years” or some other calendar?Language: is there a different language spoken in this land (like Elvish or Klingon)?

Final Draft Due: Friday, March 10th

*As usual, Final Drafts must be PROOFREAD! typed, 1.5 spacing, Times New Roman font, standard margins.

My Plan Essay Info

The My Plan Essay!  This graduation requirement asks that you write answers to 3 questions and upload them to Naviance.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Log in to Naviance
  • Click on the “My Planner” tab, then “Tasks Assigned to Me”
  • Locate the “My Plan Essay” task and follow the directions.

Here are the 3 questions you will need to answer.  Please use complete sentences/your best English skills when writing your responses:

  1. Explain your career aspirations and your educational plan to meet these goals. Clearly articulate both short and long term goals and describe the interests, skills, and experiences that helped you develop your post-high school plan.
  2. Explain how you have helped your family or made your community a better place to live. Provide specific examples and include what you learned from these experiences. How did these experiences help to inform your post-high school plan?
  3. Describe a personal accomplishment and the strengths and skills you used to achieve it.Consider your growth during your four years in high school. How will this experience serve you in your future?

NOTE: Apparently, these questions ALSO appear on the OSAC application.  If you’ve done OSAC, you should just copy and paste your OSAC essays into Naviance and be done with the graduation requirement.

Good luck!

New Finals/End of Semester: How It Affects Us

PPS has moved finals up a week.  Here’s how that change affects our class:

Our in-class performances of “The Empire Striketh Back” will now be on 1/23 and 1/25; we will add one more rehearsal day!

We will now have school on 1/27!  The planning day (no school) will be on 2/3.

All late work is now due by 1/31.

Memorization will still be due on 1/12, but those desiring an extra week to get ready may now recite on 1/19.

Finals will be on 1/31, 2/1, 2/2.

Second semester begins on 2/6, a “B-day”.

Hamlet/To Be… Memorization

On November 28th, we began our work with Hamlet, Shakespeare, and the memorization of “To be or Not To Be…”.

NOTE: Attendance/participation is very important during this unit! While there won’t be any new papers due during this time, all of our work happens IN THE ROOM DURING CLASS.  If you have any planned absences, or other ideas about not being here, please LET ME KNOW IN ADVANCE so you don’t lose any valuable points connected to our work.

We also began memorizing Hamlet’s “To Be or Not To Be” soliloquy from Act III, scene i; found on p. 127 in most of our books.  The text is also pasted below.

This assignment can NOT be done “last minute”.  It will only take a few minutes each day, but you MUST WORK EVERY DAY!

Memorize the following lines and be ready to recite them for me by January 12th, 2017.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.–

Tips to help you memorize:

  • Work on this for 5 minutes EVERY DAY.
  • Read the whole thing out loud every day.
  • Learn to pronounce each word confidently! (Ask about words you are unsure of)
  • Record it and put it on heavy rotation in your playlist–listen to it A LOT!
  • Give each word a specific MOVEMENT and recite with your moves.
  • Read it BACKWARDS, word by word, every day.
  • Commit ONE new line to memory each day, and speak the new memorized lines OUT LOUD.
  • Write down the whole passage by hand once a day.

Personal Essay!

Due: Next week (11/15). If you need more time, LET ME KNOW.  But don’t take too long!  We’re moving quickly on to new things.  Best to knock this out fast.

Length: This is about CONTENT, not length.  As with the examples we read, take the time to tell your story and include appropriate reflection.

Format: Typed, 1.5 spacing, 12 pt. font., standard margins

Process: We wrote our first drafts in class on Tues 11/8.  Between 11/1 and 11/8, we read, discussed, and analyzed essays by Tom Robbins, David James Duncan, Edward Abbey, and Matt Groening.  We focused on 6 traits shared by personal essays:

  • Author’s Voice
  • Experience-based
  • Reflection
  • Meandering Logic
  • Poetic Language
  • Allusion