About a Boy Essays

British Literature

August 28th, 2009

Themes: , , ,


The format for any essay in my class (and the works cited page) can be found here. How to head your paper is over here.

Read through chapter 20 for Monday. (See the reading schedule for the rest of the week here.)

Third Hour:

Use the following prompt to guide your first essay over the novel. While we have not finished the book, you should have more than enough information to support your claims.

The following quotation comes from John Donne’s “Meditation #17”:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

In your paper, create and support an argument about how theme of About a Boy compares or contrasts with the theme of John Donne’s “Meditation #17.” Remember that the actions and thoughts of the characters contribute to the theme of the book, so your support will primarily come from the characters’ thoughts and actions.

Put another way, you should do the following:

  1. Decide what you believe Donne’s message is in “Meditation #17.”
    1. Write it down so you can reference it as you begin writing your paper.
    2. Remember the short paper you wrote over Donne’s piece? That might help here…
  2. Read through your notes over the book, and skim through previous chapters.
    1. Which characters interact like Donne says he does?
    2. Which do not?
    3. Mark passages that answer these questions.
  3. If a character changes his or her actions over time, definitely mark the passages that show this.
  4. Create an outline.
    1. Write your overall explanation of the characters’ actions in relation to “Meditation #17” at the top. (This would be your thesis.)
    2. Group together similar (or contrasting) scenes together in your outline. (These would be your paragraphs; include as many paragraphs as necessary to make your point.)
  5. Use your outline to write a rough draft.
  6. Type it.
  7. Be proud.
  8. Bring it to class Monday.

This may seem like an awful lot, but break it down into manageable parts. For example, do #1-4 Saturday morning and #4-5 Sunday afternoon, and edit it as you type it Sunday night.

Fifth Hour:

Follow the format guidelines at the top of this page; bring your rough drafts to class Monday.


As always, email or post questions below.

A winter’s day…

British Literature

August 25th, 2009

Themes: ,

More tomorrow.

Life’s Milestones and Reading Quizzes

British Literature

August 24th, 2009

Themes: , ,

So, I went and did it. I wrote a reading quiz and made you take it. While no one asked why you had to (and you promised you would), the reasoning I gave in class was this:

  1. Some of you are motivated by grades, points, etc. While I do my best to dissuade you from this, hoping that you’ll instead enjoy the book, many of you remain steadfast. That’s cool; we have quizzes.
  2. It gets us all thinking about the same scenes from the novel while maintaining our own opinions of them. In years past, I would open with “So what happened?” and someone would give a synopsis. This worked fairly well, but colored everyone’s interpretation. I want to know how each of you read it, not come to a consensus.
  3. Some of you are smarter on paper, or unwilling to speak up in class. I’ve always been in the former group, so I feel your pain. Writing out your thoughts gives you a chance to organize them. For the quiet ones, you get your opinions to me, though the rest of the class misses out. I may read some of your responses in class. If you are worried about this, just let me know.

Bookmark the previous post (the reading schedule) so you don’t have to go searching every night. Some students copy it into their reading journals or on a bookmark so they always have it. Do whatever you feel is best.

“How I Came to Be a Teacher”

Fifth hour (and anyone in third hour who is interested): I’m really excited that you decided to write your own story similar to mine. It will be due Friday in lieu of an essay over the book. Remember that it does not have to be about you as a student. Here are some ideas:

The only parameters are that it should be about something you have achieved, or something you are doing/living now. While “How I decided to become a _____ when I grow up” would be an interesting story, focus on something that has changed in your recent past.


As always, email me with questions.

About a Boy Plans

British Literature

August 23rd, 2009

Themes: ,

If you haven’t picked up About a Boy yet, do so. We’ll be discussing the first two chapters in class Monday. For your reference, here’s the reading schedule Read the rest of this entry »

Starting About a Boy on Monday

British Literature

August 19th, 2009


We will begin discussing Nick Hornby’s About a Boy on Monday, Aug. 24th. There are plenty of copies under my name at Barnes & Noble on 41st:

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Read through chapter 4 and come to class prepared to discuss.