Corman's Corner

Knowledge potluck: Bring something to share.

The Original Composition


Original Composition: We will look at the original composition in general, and the narrative essay specifically. (handout) This video might be helpful.

In a narrative essay, the emphasis shifts from the story as a story to a story whose purpose is to inform or instruct. There should be an introduction with a thesis, a body, and a conclusion (including a reflective comment).

Sample Essay Topics

We will look at the criteria for the original composition and some student samples: analyzing strengths and weaknesses.


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The Novel Study: Reading Journals


Over the course of reading your selected novel, I would like you to write 5 journal entries (spread out over your reading of the book).

Evaluation of reading journals will be based on the following scoring guide:

Summary: 6/10
If your reading journals are plot summaries, your reading journal grade will be a C.

Connections: 7/10 – 8/10
Your journals must connect plot events to your personal experiences. You should write about both the plot events and the effect the book has on you. Listed here are triggers for beginning such responses. (Select only one trigger for each reading journal – and only if you cannot generate your own original idea.)

• As I read the part about…, I began to think of…
• I know the feeling of…, because I…
• I was surprised…
• If I had been (character’s name), I…
• based on…, I predict…

Sentences must be well crafted and paragraphs well organized.

Author’s Craft: 9/10 – 10/10
You will write a response as described above (connections) plus an additional paragraph on some aspect of the author’s craft. Such comments might include:

• Telling about a section that you really liked and explaining why
• Telling about the author’s use of figurative language (simile…)
• The use of foreshadowing or suspense
• Effective or ineffective use of dialogue
• Themes
• Comparison to other books (similar settings, characters…)
• Analysis of character or comment on character development

I would suggest trying to include some of the literary terms and devices you are responsible for in your discussion of author’s craft. Prose suggestions would include:

  • allusion
  • antagonist/protagonist
  • atmosphere/mood
  • characterization: foil, dynamic, static, flat, round, stereotype
  • plot: conflict, climax…
  • dialogue
  • dilemma
  • irony: dramatic, verbal, situational…
  • point-of-view: first person, third person, limited omniscient, omniscient…
  • flashback
  • foreshadowing
  • imagery
  • narrator
  • setting
  • symbolism
  • tone
  • theme

It will not be enough to simply identify these devices. You must discuss how they contribute to the story.

To receive an A, you must make your point by basing your response on a
specific quote(s).

You need a rich vocabulary to be a strong writer. The best way to acquire a rich vocabulary is to read at every opportunity. Although you will absorb many new words merely by meeting them frequently, you will accelerate the assimilation of new words if you will take the trouble to look up the meaning of unfamiliar words as you meet them. Write these words, their definitions, and the sentences they are used in, into your journal.


“No Renewal” is a dystopian look at the future written from the perspective of the past. In this short story, an elderly man named Douglas Bent is going through the process of making himself a special cup of wintergreen tea for his birthday. As he goes through this seemingly mundane process; the oddities, quirks, and to some horrors, of this world are revealed. The world has run out of petroleum (though cars and consumer electronics are still commonplace). As a result, the area around the Bay of Fundy in Newfoundland has been dug up for the clay that humans now make everything out of. There is no wood left. All the animals have died. Partway through the story, Douglas realises that he doesn’t even know how old he is. In search of an answer, he retreats to his attic where a trunk containing remnants of younger years lies. He eventually finds his birth certificate, which shows that his “expiry date” is today. The story ends with him embracing his imminent euthanasia.

It’s an interesting concept. The authour has some very creative ideas that should play out well, but in short, they don’t. At the root of the problems are a number of obvious contradictions and even (prepare yourself) mathematical errors. Most apparent is the fact that though there is no oil left, there are cars. Now of course they could be hydrogen cars or electric cars or solar powered cars or some such. But one undeniable mistake is the existance of the electric clock. The clock would need a housing. The housing could be made out of clay, but the wires inside would also have to be insulated. Wires can’t be insulated with clay. Then there is the “Panic Winter of ’94″ where they had to burn their 200 year old clock, but then somehow didn’t have to burn the large trunk upstairs. It’s almost like the author had a bunch of good ideas of things that might happen in the future, but had no time to flesh them out or figure out the implications. Then there’s the error with the dates. the period of time from 1989 to 2049 is 60 years, not 50. I hope he fired his editor and took a math course at his community college or something.

Needless to say, I didn’t think much of the story. it seemed poorly thought out and rushed. There are so many dystopian short stories out there that are better than this one. The only really new idea that this one brought to the genre was digging up clay to make up for plastic, and the actual implications of this were nowhere to be found in the story. Perhaps I am so unimpressed because I just watched Manufactured Landscapes last night, but “No Renewal” is just another unoriginal, formulaic, dystopian short story. The idea of compulsory euthanasia, which was clearly intended to pack a powerful dramatic punch, was considerably watered down, as the idea was introduced midstory. That, and he fact that, like most ideas in this story, it’s already been done before way better (like in The Giver).

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The Novel Study


With Spring Break fast approaching, it is a good time to begin reading a novel. I can’t think of a better way to spend vacation time. You will get some say in what you’d like to read, but I do have some suggestions for you:

  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  • Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples

I have copies in class for you to take a look at before you decide, and we can chat.

Karley has chosen to read The Poisonwood BibleThis Bookdrum page includes a review of the novel, discussion of setting, a glossary, a brief author bio, and a plot summary. The “Bookmarks” section is remarkable: allusions from the novel are explained and illustrated. Check it out!

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Irony Continued….


I would like you to read “An Ode to the User-Friendly Pencil” by Bonnie Lang. (handout)

There will be a number of multiple choice questions for you to answer. Consider this open book, as you make look up definitions of literary terms that you are unsure of. Circle the answers on the sheet provided and submit when complete.

You will also be asked to write a paragraph discussing the irony in the article. Please refer specifically to the piece and include quotations as support. Don’t forget to include the name of the piece and the author in your topic sentence as well as letting the reader know that the paragraph will focus on irony.

Don’t forget analysis paragraph format:

Your paragraph should
  •     make a debatable claim (the topic sentence)
  •     provide proof for that claim (the evidence or support)
  •     show how the evidence supports the claim (the analysis)
  •     contain effective transitions both within the paragraph so that the reader can follow the logic of the argument.

Submit using Google Docs.

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You will be reviewing irony.

Irony is the difference between appearance and reality.

Dramatic IronyThe reader knows more about the events of a story than a character within it. Characters’ beliefs become ironic because they are very different from reality, and their intentions are likewise different from the outcome their actions will have.

Verbal IronyThe words of a character have a hidden meaning as well as an apparent one.

Situational IronyThere is a discrepancy between what is expected to happen and what actually happens.

Structural IronyA double level of meaning is continued throughout a work by means of a participant in the story whose judgment is impaired by prejudice, personal interests or limited knowledge.

Watch the videos that follow. They will be very helpful. You will need headphones.

Please read the following poem. Then post a comment on this blog discussing the irony in the poem.

St. George

By Nancy Senior
My dragon always loved walks
He used to go to the wall
where the golden chain hung
and take it in his mouth
laying his head on my lap
sideways, so the fire wouldn’t burn my skirt

He looked so funny that way
with his wings dragging the floor
and his rear end high up
because he couldn’t bend his hind legs

With him on the leash, I could go anywhere
No band of robbers dared attack

This morning in the woods
we had stopped for a drink
where a spring gushes out of a cave

when suddenly, a man in armour
riding a white horse
leapt out of the bushes
crying “Have no fear
I will save you”

And before I could say a word
he had stabbed my dragon in the throat
and leaping down from the horse
cut off his head
and held it up for me to see
the poor eyes still surprised
and mine filling with tears
He hadn’t even had time to put out his claws
And the man said
“Don’t cry, Maiden
You are safe now
But let me give some good advice

Don’t ever walk alone in the woods
for the next time you meet a dragon
there might not be a knight around to save you”

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The Persuasive Essay Continued….


Please have your persuasive essays submitted to Google Docs by Monday, March 4th. What follows is a student sample.

Hemp is the fastest growing plant on earth. It will grow anywhere that corn will grow, and requires no pesticides or herbicides. Its natural resistance to drought, frost, pests and UV rays makes hemp a good crop plant. Hemp is an excellent source of food, fuel, and fibre, making it a most important natural resource.

First of all, hemp is the ultimate food source, and it has been for thousands of years. Hemp seeds, which can constitute fifty percent of a mature plant, are second only to soybeans nutritionally; and are cheaper to grow than soybeans. Not only are hemp seeds the most digestible form of protein known to man, they are also high in vitamin B12, an important vitamin found mainly in animal proteins. The nutrient-rich hemp seed contains all eight essential amino acids and the highest amount of essential fatty acids. Hemp seeds are incredibly diverse as foodstuffs; anything that can be made with soy protein, from cheeseburgers to milk and ice cream, can be made with hemp seeds!

Secondly, hemp is an exceptional fuel source. Hemp seed oil can be burned as is or processed into efficient substitutes for charcoal, methanol, ethanol and gasoline through an environmentally sound process called pyrolysis. Virtually free of metals and sulphur, fuel made from hemp burns clean, and does not contribute to global warming. Hemp can also be used to make anything that can be made of petroleum, including plastics. Hemp plastics are biodegradable and recyclable. Hemp ia a renewable, environmentally friendly alternative to Earth’s diminishing fossil fuels.

Lastly, as the world’s strongest natural fibre, hemp is superior to cotton and wood as a source of textiles and paper. One acre of hemp will produce as much fibre as two to three acres of cotton, and as much paper as four acres of trees! Fabric made from hemp is ten times more durable, eight times more absorbent, more mildew resistant, and softer than cotton; and because of hemp’s natural resistance to ultra violet rays, hemp fabric blocks UV rays better than other fabrics. While an astounding fifty percent of all agricultural pesticides and herbicides are used in the cotton industry, hemp, as mentioned earlier, requires none. Paper can be made more efficiently from hemp than from wood; hemp is ready for harvest four months after it is planted, while trees are only harvestable after at least twenty years. Hemp paper, a by-product of the textile industry, contains no dioxins or sulphur, and does not yellow with age. Paper made from trees lasts only 25 to 30 years, and can only be recycled three times; whereas, paper made from hemp has a shelf life of 1500 to 3000 years, and can be recycled up to seven times!

If there is one single plant that can “save the planet” it is hemp. This fast-growing, versatile plant is extremely useful and environmentally friendly. A renewable source of food, fuel and fibre, hemp is one of Earth’s most precious natural resources.

By Monique Perry

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The Persuasive Essay Continued….


Please read “Where’s the Beef” by Alan Herscovici. (handout)

Elements of a Persuasive Essay

A persuasive essay only succeeds if it convinces its readers to share its writer’s views. A good persuasive essay has at least some of the following elements:

  •  A clearly stated thesis that expresses the writer’s opinion. Words such as should, ought, and must help make thesis statements strong. 
  • An emotional appeal. Most writers of persuasive essays use emotion to get the readers to feel strongly about their argument. Often persuasive essays begin with an emotional appeal.
  • Well-chosen examples that support the main points. Without examples, a persuasive essay can be flat and unconvincing.
  • Firm evidence to support the main points. The evidence should consist of facts, expert opinions, and examples.
  • A line of argument that answers critics in advance. Writers who anticipate, confront, and refute opposing arguments show their readers that they are knowledgeable about the other side of the issue. By answering objections in advance, these writers strengthen their own position.
  • An argument that depends on logic. Although persuasive essays often do appeal to their reader’s emotions, the argument should be based on logic.
  • Arguments are presented in a logical or climactic order. Persuasive essays can be organized in a number of different ways, but many writers present their arguments in a logical progression, often in the order of importance, saving their most important point for last.
  • Conclusions that predict. Some writers use their conclusions to predict what will happen if their argument is not believed or acted upon. Others point out what will happen if their arguments are taken seriously.



  • should grab the reader’s attention
  • should include a thesis statement that states a clear argumentative position and informs the reader of the key points in the composition


  • should include at least three key points
  • the three reason paragraphs should each start with a topic sentence
  • each reason should be supported with facts, expert opinions, quotations, and/or specific examples
  • should address the reader’s concerns, counterclaims, and/or biases
  • ideas should be organized to flow logically
  • transitions should be used to connect all paragraphs and help ideas flow smoothly


  • should remind the reader of the main idea and key points
  • essay should end with a call to action


  • grammar and spelling count
  • a variety of sentence patterns should be used.

You can continue to work on your own piece. 

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The Persuasive Essay


The persuasive essay is a short, non-fiction composition. Its purpose is to convince the reader to think or act in a certain way. A good persuasive essay must have a strong, clearly stated thesis – sometimes called a proposition – and a logical line of reasoning that the reader can follow.

Newspaper and magazine editorials, opinion pieces, and columns are all examples of persuasive essays.

What follows is a list of techniques used in the persuasive/argumentative essay. Please read carefully.

ARGUMENTATION – attempts to convince through logic.
Argumentation takes two opposite forms, deduction and induction.

Deduction accepts a general principle as true, then applies it to specific cases.

Major premise: All men are mortal.
Minor premise: Socrates is a man. GOOD ARGUMENT
Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.

BAD Major premise: Progress is good.
ARGUMENT Minor premise: The automobile represents progress. Conclusion: The automobile is good.

The problem with deduction is that we cannot always agree on premises.

Induction is the opposite of deduction. It first observes particular cases, then from them formulates a general rule.

After a summer in the factory Joan thought she could afford a car, so the week before school began she bought a sporty red three-year-old japanese model. Speeding around town with the stereo turned up was so much fun that she didn’t mind the $350-a-month payments. But when the insurance company hit her for $2500 as a new driver, her savings took a dive. Each month she found herself paying $100 for gas and $150 for parking. A fall tune-up set her back $200, and new tires $400. Then came the repairs: $250 for brakes, $350 for a clutch, and $225 for an exhaust system. In desperation Joan took a part-time job selling shoes. That helped her bankbook but took her study time. Two weeks after exams, holding a sickly grade report in her hand, Joan decided to sell the car. Nobody could have told her to, since, like most people, she likes to make up her own mind. But the long string of evidence did the teaching: now Joan knows, through induction, that as a student she cannot afford a car.

PERSUASION – attempts to convince through emotion.

Major techniques:

Word choice: Is an oil spill an “incident,” an “accident,” a “mistake,” a “crime” or an “environmental tragedy”? Writers tend to choose the term that reflects their feeling and the feeling they hope to encourage in the readers.

Example: An attempt to show old people as active may be helped by the example of your grandmother who skis.

: Intentional repetition can build feeling.

Hyperbole (exaggeration): This is used in humorous pieces. “Man You’re a Great Player!” – Gary Lautens.

Analogy and figures of speech: Analogies, comparing one thing with another from a different category (a monster with the forest industry), and their shorter cousins similes and metaphors, are powerful tools of persuasion.

Irony: “My Body Is My Own Business” – Naheed Mustafa

Appeal to authority or prestige: We invite our readers to believe what a judge says about law, or what an educator says about education. This approach appeals to our reader’s ethical sense: he or she believes these people know the facts and tell the truth.

Fright: A frightened reader is an interested reader. Frighten a reader only with facts that really are scary (such as the number of times computer error nearly launched a Third World War).

Climax: After a good introduction, start with your least dramatic point, then progress upward to your strongest.

Taken from The Act of Writing.

Read “Why Write”. (handout)

Begin to brainstorm your own topics for a persuasive piece. This link might be helpful.



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Theme is the underlying comment or idea about life.
• generalization about life stated or implied by the author
• not what happens in the story but what we learn from what happens
• don’t confuse with moral – theme does not pass judgment
• not all stories have a theme

The main purpose of some literature is to present an important theme for the reader to ponder. In your own words, sum up the theme of this story in a single sentence (theme statement). Reread the story to locate three sentences or passages that, in your view, are most important in expressing the theme. Explain your choices. Conclude by telling whether the theme is important to you personally. Do you see it reflected in your own life or in the world around you?

English 12: Students will read The Large Ant by Howard Fast. (handout)

English 11: Students will read Wilhelm by Gabrielle Roy. (handout)


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Methods of Characterization

An author implicitly (indirectly) reveals a character’s personality and traits by describing his/her:

• physical appearance
• speech (both what is said and how)
• actions
• inner thoughts and feelings
• his/her effect on other characters (what they say or how they act)

or the author can just tell the reader what to think about the character (Explicit).

Types of Character

Flat Character – only one or two traits are developed

Round Character – is complex and many-sided

Stock Character – the stereotyped figure who has occurred so often in fiction he/she is immediately known

Static Character – is the same sort of person at the end of the story as he was at the beginning

Dynamic Character – undergoes permanent change in some aspect of his character, personality, or outlook

Character Foils – characters who contrast so strongly so that the traits of each are emphasized by contrast with those of the other

Protagonist – the central character, who is trying to accomplish something

Antagonist – the force opposing the protagonist

Three Principals of Convincing Characterization

1. A character must be consistent in his/her behavior unless there is a valid
reason for change.

2. Characters must be clearly motivated: we must be able to understand the
reasons for what they do.

3. Characters must be plausible or lifelike.


English 12 students will be reading the short story A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin.

Write a character analysis of Mrs. Sommers in which you describe and explain how she changes in this story. Include specific, references to details that illustrate the dynamic nature of her character. Do you think these changes are temporary or permanent. Share using google docs.

English 11 students will be reading the short story The Prospector’s Trail by Cathy Jewison. (handout)

Write a brief description of Roy’s personality. Do the same for Norman and Jennifer. In each case, include specific lines from the story that illustrate the character traits you’ve described.

In The Prospector’s Trail, which characters are dynamic and which are static? Give reasons for your conclusions.

Share using google docs.

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