Monday, August 29, 2011

Benjamin Franklin: Virtues Project

Part I: Your Own Virtues List

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin describes his self-improvement program for helping himself progress towards moral perfection. Franklin felt it was more useful to have a longer list of very specific virtues rather than a shorter list of broad, vague virtues. His list included 13 virtues. Your assignment is to critically examine his list. Which virtues has he omitted that are important to you? Which virtues has he included which are not terribly important to you? Create your own list of specific virtues for a person living in the 21st century. For each virtue, briefly give a description of the virtue following Franklin’s model. Your final list should include at least 10 virtues.

*Extra miler—Franklin sequenced his list in the order he felt the virtues would most naturally build on one another. Can you do the same with your own list? Why would you start with the first virtue? How does the next virtue build on the previous virtue?

Part II: Personal Virtue Log

Franklin believed that focusing on one virtue each week would gradually help him to incorporate these virtues into his character. For this assignment, you are asked to focus on charting your progress on one of these virtues for one week. Please make a chart following Franklin’s model and use it to mark each time you fail to follow your selected virtue.

Part III: Reflection

Type a written reflection on your experiences with this project. You may wish to answer some of the following questions:

  1. What did you learn or realize from creating your own values list?
  2. What progress did you make in incorporating your selected virtue into your own character?
  3. How permanent do you think any changes will be for you? Why?
  4. What made living by the virtue difficult?
  5. Do you think self-improvement plans work? Why?

Your reflection should be 250-300 words. Remember to use MLA formatting.

Due Date: Sept. 6

100 Points

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Write Your Own Obituary

For this assignment, please write your own obituary. You should combine both true events that have already been an important part of your life and imagined events that you anticipate being a part of your future life.

For ideas on what kinds of information you can include in your obituary, please find examples at the following website: .

Your obituary should be 300-500 words long.

Please use Arial font for the parts of your obituary that are imagined. The true parts of your obituary should be in Times New Roman font. All fonts should be size 12, according to MLA guidelines.

The focus of grading for this assignment will be on how well you follow MLA formatting guidelines. For a reminder on MLA formatting, please see the following website: .

Due Friday, Aug. 26

Please submit this assignment by "sharing" it with me in your Google docs. My email is

This assignment is worth 30 points.

Monday, August 22, 2011

2011-12 Disclosure Document

11th Grade Socratic Seminar: American Identities

Mr. Dye, 2011-2012

Welcome to 11th Grade Socratic Seminar. This year we will be examining our American heritage and identities by considering United States history and literature beginning with the Age of Exploration and then moving on through to the conclusion of post-Civil War Reconstruction. We will engage in the processes of thinking—reading, writing, listening, inquiring, and speaking. I am so excited to introduce you to some of my favorite authors and thinkers. Please come to class each day prepared to participate with sincerity and enthusiasm.


By the end of this class, you should be able to:

· Demonstrate a positive attitude toward Language Arts skills and processes

· Demonstrate familiarity with the ideas and facts of U.S. history from exploration through post-Civil War Reconstruction

· Use written and oral language creatively, persuasively, precisely, and responsibly

· Read competently and critically

· Develop the skills to gather, comprehend, evaluate, and apply new ideas and information

· Participate as an empathic, active member within a community of learners


In this class we will follow the Utah State Core for 11th Grade Language Arts and U.S. History I. We will do this by studying great works of literature in a historical context. The following is a list of the types of literature we will study:

The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne)

The Tempest (Shakespeare)

The Real George Washington (Parry, Allison, Skousen)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Douglass)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain)

The Killer Angels (Shaara)

Lincoln (Donald)

Walden (Thoreau)

Poetry by—

Emily Dickinson

Edgar Allen Poe

Edward Taylor

Walt Whitman

John Greenleaf Whittier

Various historical documents


By the end of the first week of class, you will need to purchase the following supplies. You must have them with you in class each day.

1) A composition notebook (9.25" X 7.5")

2) Pencils and black pens

3) Loose-leafed, lined college-ruled paper (Do NOT use lined paper from a bound notepad.)

4) A three-ring binder with tab dividers/separators

5) One box of colored pencils

6) 3 standard-sized Post-it notepads

7) One textbook cover

Home Computer Use

Students need to be able to use a computer at home with Internet access. Students must also have access to a working printer. Writing assignments must be typed and printed. “My printer is out of ink” is not a valid excuse.

Students need to have access to a gmail account. Students in this class will use Google docs to submit and receive feedback on writing assignments. Students will also post comments on a class writing blog. Parents should ensure that students use safe and appropriate practices when using the Internet.


Students will receive homework every night. Assignments should take approximately 50 minutes for this class. Homework assignments will be written on the upper left-hand corner of the whiteboard and posted in PowerSchool. Students are responsible for writing down their assignment each day.

Late Work

Each academic quarter will be subdivided into two-week long sprints. No late assignments will be accepted after the end of each sprint. If the student is absent the last day of the sprint, he/she must make arrangements with the teacher for submitting the work.


Please avoid unnecessary absences. When you miss class, you miss out on the discussion and questioning that are the essence of the Socratic Seminar. I value each minute of class as an opportunity to learn. You will be responsible for what took place in class, whether or not you attend.

If you know you will have to miss a class, please discuss the absence in advance with the instructor. If an emergency arises and you must miss class, you must meet with the teacher during lunch or after school the following school day.


Because of the nature of Socratic Seminar, the grade you earn will appear on your official transcript for two different courses: Language Arts and U.S. History. Reading assignments, quizzes, exams, projects, and writing assignments will factor into the quarter grade. It is your responsibility to track your grades in PowerSchool and to seek help when you need it.

Normal assignments will be entered into PowerSchool by each Friday; however, longer written assignments and projects may require more time to grade and may be marked simply as “collected” in PowerSchool until grading is complete. I will do my best to give timely feedback so students can use it to improve.

We will follow Maeser's grade scale:

A 93-100%

B+ 86-89.99%

C+ 74-77.99%

F <66%

A- 90-92.99%

B 82-85.99%

C 70-74.99%

No D grades awarded

B- 80-81.99%

C- 66-69.99%

School Uniforms

The school uniform policy will be carefully enforced in Socratic Seminar classes. Wearing uniforms helps students choose daily to honorably keep their commitments.


Plagiarism is using anyone's ideas in your own writing without giving that person credit. The way to avoid plagiarism is to learn proper MLA citation style. This is something we will practice in class. Plagiarism is a serious problem. Violations will be subject to consequences as stated in school policy. Parents, please help your students do their own work. Students, if you are having problems with a writing assignment, please talk with me rather than submit work that is not your own. We will work out a solution together so that you do not have to tarnish your integrity.

The Parent's Role

  1. Help your student track assignments.
  2. Help your student be in class ON TIME and avoid unnecessary absences.
  3. Allow your student to do his/her own thinking on all homework assignments. Ask questions, offer suggestions, but let their work reflect their personal best effort.
  4. Encourage your student to try challenging things.
  5. Communicate with the instructor about concerns.

Other Policies

School-wide policies on tardies, academic honesty, electronic devices, and hall passes will be enforced.

The best way to contact Mr. Dye is by email at the following address:

You may also call the school during his preparation periods (5th and 6th): 801-235-9000.

Please complete and return the following information by tomorrow.

Student Name: _____________________________________

Parent(s) Name(s): _____________________________________


Parent email address: ________________________________________________

Student gmail address: _______________________________________________

Parent phone(s): ____________________________________________________

Parents, please check the appropriate circle for the following statements.

Yes No

c c I have an area of expertise on which I would be willing to present.

c c I will ensure that my student has the required materials for this course by the end of the first week.

c c I will ensure that my student has access to a computer, the Internet, and a working printer.

c c I would be interested in accompanying the class on a field trip.

c c I am qualified to substitute teach English and History and would be interested in doing so occasionally.


Content Advisory

I understand that Socratic Seminar students will explore a variety of topics and themes, including politics, religion, curriculum-appropriate sexuality (e.g., the infidelity of King Henry VIII or a picture of Michelangelo’s David), mental health, social problems, and other moral and ethical values. The teacher will be sensitive to the family’s role in shaping individual students’ values and will treat these subjects with a respectful, balanced, academic approach. Individual students in the class may share their own beliefs, insomuch as they are respectful of other students’ beliefs as well as those held by other members of the community at large. I understand that teachers have opinions too that occasionally may be voiced as such. If at any time I am uncomfortable with something that has been discussed in class, I will bring this to the attention of the teacher and respectfully seek mutual understanding.

_______________________________________ _________________

Parent Signature Date