Wednesday, December 14, 2005

12/14 Working on U4 assignment

Hello. Not a lot to say today but you should read it all becuase there are specific instructions. Your choice.

I am guessing many of you could use some more time and guidance on this assignment, I'm hip, I understand. The problem is those of you who probably need help the most are often the least likely to ask. Thus today, I have made no specific plan, beyond a short (5-10minute) writing assignment, due before you leave class. If you wish to speak with me in class, please write your name on the board. I will spend a maximum of 5 minutes with any student if there are others waiting to talk with me. I will try to see everyone who wants to talk with me. If I have seen you early in the class and you want to talk again, you may write your name on the board again.

In class, I will allow you to work on whatever you wish, but suggest you spend your class developing your outlines (the finished assignment-thing that will be turned in Friday). By now, you should have seen your film/show and have begun to do some research, finding articles and other information online or in books. By the end of today, you must have a research question and a thesis developed, and should have begun to read and take notes on your research. By friday you need an outline with a thesis, a work cited page (MLA format) that lists the materials you used in your research, and copies of the sources you used. I am expecting you to use four or more sources, and prefer that most (if not all) are in English.

In-class writing assignment: Please answer the following two questions.
  1. What is your research question ? What are you specifically looking for?
  2. What is your 'best guess' answer to your question? What do you expect to find? What specifically do you think you will find in your research? BTW (by the way), this 'best guess' answer to your research question is often times your thesis. Notice I said specific? I mean it.

Notes on writing a strong, useful thesis
. You might want to look at the OWL site (or here, if you are confused about what a thesis/research question is) about helping you write a thesis. Notice the site makes a distinction between reasearch question and thesis? I want you to ask a question and then answer it. That makes this an analytical reasearch paper, I beleive.

Example Thesis
. A thesis that says, "The characters of Film X tells us various things about women" is empty and is not a good thesis.
so too a thesis similar to "Many things have changed for women over time" while better, again expresses almost no specific information.
Make your thesis strong and relevant: make sure it clearly states something important, something memorable.
"The character in Film X depict women as ____ and this tells us that women are ____"
"The role of women in society has changed dramatically over the past ___ years, especially in regards to ___"
You would of course, need to fill in the blanks with SPECIFIC information, not VAGUE statements that require interpretation by the reader.

Links for outlines (from OWL -- i love OWL!). Here are some more. A link to MLA formatting (for work cited page) AND how to use quotations in text. There is even something on alphabetizing your work cited, something I know some of you need to work on.

I think that is it for now. Good luck, and please ask questions!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

researching our friday film

Not a lot on the forum today. By midnight tonight, I would like you to do as Eribou has done and post a comment about this Friday's film and your choice on which we should watch. Below I have given you the names of the films, as well as their length. One thing to note about the film The Brother from Another Planet is that there are NO Subtitles.

In class, I hope there will be a little time for you to do some reading and discussion of these two films in small groups. I will aslo try to show the trailers for both films so you can get a feel for them. Places to look for information about these films. Obviously, I expect you to be able to do your own research, but to give you some other options beyond (which is a good place to look, especially in their forums). You are free to do your own research as well, and I encourage you to look at more sites than just the ones I mentioned, I offer these if you are feeling a bit lazy, or need a place to begin.

Contact (1997) 153minutes. -- many quoteable reviews here. High rating (76% of critics like it)
Here is a link for the plot of the film.
trailer might work, this one should work.
In, I suggest looking at the forums to see what other, regular viewers have said about these films. It can be fun. Be careful: sometimes these forums contain 'spoliers' information that gives away what happens in the film. Some people don't like to know so much about what they will watch.

Brother from Another Planet (1984) 110minutes. -- lots of review quotes on this film. Notice it's very high rating (100% of reviewers gave it a positive rating)
Synopsis (plot) of the film is interesting to read as well.
Yahoo overview and links
Online Trailer -- don't know if this will work.
There are far fewer forum threads on Brother at, but they might still be useful.

Notice, we will not hae time to finish either in class, but we will see most of them and I will probably run them all the way through (you can leave at the end of class just like with 12Monkeys, if you want/need to go).

Please post on the previous forum NOT this one. Please post on Monday's forum.

Monday, December 05, 2005

12/05 room5204

In today's class, I will hand back your most recent papers on Sarah Connor and the Terminator films. I want you to read the comments, we will be using them in our conversation about Tank Girl. My hope is we will spend about 30-40minutes on Tank Girl, but be warned, if there is no participation, we will spend longer (meaning less time to work on your presentations).

Tank Girl:
I hope our conversation will be weighty, useful, and to the point and based on your comments in your papers, I can see that you are quite capable of finding and discussing interesting, salient issues in the films. Now I would like to see you share these ideas in class. The other choice is a short writing. I will make this clear. If you have nothing to say in class, you will have a writing assignment about this film. Period. End of discussion. With that not-so-subtle threat hanging there, let me assure you that this is not a discussion where there is a 'right' answer. There is however, a 'wrong' answer -- silence and lack of effort which to me are equated and similar. You have had time to think about it, you have had time to discuss it, now is a chance to share your ideas. If you won't (I don't say can't since most of you show the ability in writing) you will write about it. Some of the issues I want us to think about in class are to consider more fully:
  • The role of the Tank in this film. I asked Friday 'what is the tank?' It is a symbol but a symbol of what?
  • The role of Rebecca and her qualities -- masculine, feminine, or 'other.' (and what the heck does 'other' mean.
  • The motivation for Rebecca and the similarities/differences between her motivation and that of other women in films we have watched.
  • The character off Kesslee. How would you describe him? How long did it take you to figure out he was the bad guy?
  • This film we have viewed during this unit should highlight the differences between sex (male or female) and gender. Can you explain these terms, how they are connected as well as how they are different?
Tomorrow we will hopefully finish three presentations. As you should know, each presentation should take between 15-20 minutes and should inform the class about the subject your group has chosen, what you were looking to find, what you found and why it is relevant/important to study. I would like to have each person in the group add to the presentation. Furthermore audience (listeners) you have a job as well. Your job is to comment on the presentation, asking questions, sharing your thoughts, your feelings your 'take' or misunderstandings of the presentation/subject/etc. Participation is very important, it will keep you more awake and alert as well as prepare you for the assessment (read: test) on your retention of information from these presentations. So suggestion to audience: take notes, and ask questions. For further incentive, I grade you individually on:
  1. your group's content and if you met the requirements of the assignment (50%)
  2. your contribution to your group's presentation and (25%)
  3. if you comment during at least one other presentation per day. (25%)
Groups should feel free to use whatever visual aides they desire: we will present in the CompLabs on Wed. and on Tues., you can use my computer to present, or access websites if you wish. Send the infor to yourself by email, we will access it in class. You might also consider handouts or posters as well. Anything to help get your information across to your audience.

Additionally, remember if you don't speak in your group's presentation (you miss the presentation, are shy, or have nothing to add, I will require you to write a 2-3 page paper (due Friday 12/09) on your topic in general, and specifically what you found during your research. This is not a simple recital of your groups' presentation but what you personally found. Much easier to participate, I would think.

Friday's Film:
Finally, I want to offer you a choice of films for this Friday, give you a chance to think about, research and hopefully develop an opinion on which we should watch. Here they are, Contact (1997) or The Brother from Another Planet (1984). These two films are very different in style and content. One is a big-budget film with a super-star female lead (Jodi Foster) the other is an Independent Film with less-well known (although he was in Terminator2) black actor (Joe Morton) as the lead character. Both are excellent films, (153 & 108) and either would make for a good final film for the unit. We will make a decision on our next film by Wednesday.

Feel free to post comments, ask questions and generally post information you have found on these films and your recommendation on which to watch (and why) on this blog.