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A Writer’s Checklist

Writer's Checklist.doc 

Secret Life of Bees (Extended Trailer)          

YouTube plugin error

Day 1:

          Reading is...

          Reading Expectations: Clarify Journals, index, and text-coding          

          Rd back and pgs. 1-4

          Epigraph: Who's the bee, Who's absent?

          Identify themes

          HW: 4-25


Reading Notes and Metacognition


Reading is...          

               seeing and feeling

               asking questions

                         clarifying questions

                         wondering questions

               making connections     


Deep Reading is Metacognitive--thinking about your thinking. 


SLB Reading Expectations

1. Keep a reading journal

2. Mark up your text and have a system for it.

3. Keep a themes index in the back.

4. Either with your journal, system, index, or additional notes, keep track of important quotations and events.

5. Be on the prowl for what would could be a 


SLB Reading Journals

Journal entries give you an opportunity to “get into” the materials we’re studying.  After each reading assignment, you will THINK about what you have read and write a page-long journal entry (hand-written) that shows what you think of the reading.  This is not just a way to show that you did the reading or to say whether or not you liked it.  You need to go way beyond that, to “talk back to” the reading a bit.  Each entry will be given a score of 1-4 as follows:

4 =  an excellent entry shows genuine engagement with the material; ideas are specific and developed in depth.

3 = a good entry shows engagement with material; ideas could be more specific and more fully developed.

2 = a fair entry attempts to engage with the material but without depth or detail.

1 = a poor entry addresses but does not engage with the material.

0= there is no entry, or it is off the topic. 


A good approach to journal entries is to pay attention to what you've been seeing and feeling, asking about, and making connections with. Good connections also often connect specific things seen or felt with quotations and with themes.


SLB Themes

What we have so far:

Naming (Lily)


Relationships (family, mother, romantic)

Bees (note how phenomena in the faunal world paralles the human world)

Journey (coming of age)


Potential Help for a Presentation (mostly from Novelinks)


Flight of the Bumble Bee

Beekeeping Terms

Beekeeping Tools

Anotomy of the Hive


Feminism, Female Community, and Black Madonna

Feminism, Theology, and the Black Madonna

Video with SMK on Black Madonna


Civil Rights and Race

A Brief History of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Civil Rights Timeline

Jim Crow Laws

"My Daughter Married a Negro..."



General SLB and Sue Monk Kidd 

SMK Reflections on SLB

Beesresources.com -- trailers and interviews

Beesresources.com -- pdf

Weblog with Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd Bio

SLB Discussion Questions


Lesson Plans  



Into The Wild Trailer

      YouTube plugin error


You Tube link unable to embed by request: Jon Krakauer Reveals Inspiration for Into the Wild

You Tube link unable to embed by request: Sean Penn Pens Into the Wild


Further ITW Reading


     Everett Ruess article: ITW - Ruess Article.pdf (download) 

     Link to NYT Slabs article: Parked in Desert, Waiting Out the Winter of Life

     Newsweek Freeganism articles: "Freegan Ride" and "The Noble Scavenger on the Living-Room Couch"



      Hicks - ITW Paper.doc

      Wood - At Arm's Length - ITW.rtf

      ITW Montaigne Lead (2) - Matt.doc

      ITW Model Paragraph - Matt.doc


Reading Into the Wild


Resource 1: Into the Wild Reading Tips


Believe it or not, your discovering meaning in life is my deep concern, but I don’t have any control over that, do I? I can assign a paper and comma exercises, and I can assess your progress, but the quality of your inner life – I can’t touch that. Only you can. Only you can open your ears and your heart to what I have to say. More importantly, I can’t make you learn what this course’s books have to say about being human. Nor will I tell you much of what they say.

There are two ways to read—reading the page and reading your self. Thinking about books requires both kinds. Living well requires both kinds. Learn to read your life as a book. Look for its patterns, and think on them.

How to read books and one’s life well:

  • Reading is not reading words only.
  • Reading is seeing and feeling.
  • Reading is becoming aware of what you’re seeing and feeling by asking questions.
  • Reading is connecting the pictures, feelings, and questions to recognize patterns and to make meaning.

As I said, I will tell you very little about what these books say about living well, though I will tell you as much as I can. The rub is that literature teaches itself. I can only offer the stage and turn the lights on. You open the curtain. You show up. You attend the drama; literature’s drama attends to you. My job is to help you learn to be a patient, engaged audience.


Chris McCandless, the main character of Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, was a real person who strived to suck the marrow from life’s bones. As author of his life, he even renamed himself, as an author would name his story’s characters. Decide whether you love or hate him, and back up your stance. But I won’t let you shallowly conclude, “He’s insane.” That’s a copout. Insane people are complicated, so if “insanity” becomes your stance, understand that is not an answer; it’s a preface to your real answer, what lies behind the label.

A word on Into the Wild itself. Chris McCandless might inspire or annoy you; it is for you to examine and explore why. But for very different reasons the book itself might annoy and confuse you. Here are a few tips:

  1. Read the “Author’s Note” carefully. There is one particularly dense section; look up any unfamiliar words. This section is the blueprint for how and why the book is organized as it is.
  2. The book jumps around in time and place (more on its non-chronological nature in number four). Take the chapter titles seriously. They establish the setting.
  3. Read the italicized epigraphs (look that word up) at the beginning of each chapter. These quotations will give you a sense of the chapter’s focus. Some quotations are from Chris’s journal entries or from his books’ margins. Others are lifted from related texts. Some of the epigraphs are dense; be patient with them. Reread them and read them slowly. Discuss them with a peer; ask me.
  4. You can make sense of ITW’s jumping around if you remember that Jon Krakauer is essentially a reporter. He never met McCandless. Almost everything he knows is through interviews with family and friends. This research took Krakauer all over the country, and each person only knew fragments of Chris. Our job, like Krakauer’s, is to look at these fragments from all these different places and voices, to piece together these torn and scattered bits of McCandless’s torn and scattered life, and to try to understand who McCandless was and what guided him.


We essentially have two-and-a-half questions to tangle with:

  1. Why did McCandless go into the wild unprepared? (Stupidity and insanity aren’t acceptable answers.)
  2. What do I want from life? What do I need to do to get it?

(Remember, two things to read when you read well: the page and your life)


To help you navigate the book, I’ve provided a reading guide (the ½-sheet). You’ll see I’ve pointed out three important things per chapter. Also, more importantly, I’ve identified several themes you’ll encounter in this book and in the next, The Bean Trees (if that’s what we choose to read next). Take notes on these themes; record page numbers and key details. When I return I’ll award points for what you’ve noted and how good your system is. Also, I’ll quiz you on important details to encourage you to keep up with the reading and to think about it, and I’ll have a harder exam at the book’s end. A few tips on note taking. To flag your thinking I recommend small, finger-width sticky notes or a sheet of paper that you divide into the thematic headings (relationships, responsibility, flora/fauna (plants/animals), etc.). If you use the sticky notes, write a couple keys words on each and place them near their quotations. If the half-sheet, jot down a couple keywords and roughly where on the page. The half-sheet would, in effect, become a thematic index, and you know how helpful indexes are when looking for terms in a text book—same advantage here. You may also want a “miscellaneous important quotes” section. Remember, your job is to look for patterns, make connections, and make meaning. Often, quotes that strike you will later connect to larger themes and become good material for essay introductions and conclusions. Remember, I’m grading your system.


Resource 1: ITW Reading Tips.doc (download) 

Resource 2: ITW Focus Sheet.xls (download)



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