The M&M notebook is like a backpack, you can put anything inside it, and it will stick with you throughout the entire year.  I felt like it was a place where I could ask any question and get the most honest opinion or answer to what I was looking for as a student in American studies.  The feedback that I got usually helped me and future writing or reading assignments.  The notebook was a great place where I could express myself as a writer and learner.  It also made it possible to have Mr. Sass or Mrs. Scow to tell me what I needed to work on or needed to do to get a better grade on the entries that I wrote.  The M&Ms notebook was a great thing to have this year because it made me become a better learner, reader, and writer in American studies. 

                First, about every third rotation that I would turn in my notebook and I would find the quote, “What are you finding out about yourself as a learner?”(Sass, 02/13/11). I never knew how to correctly put that in my notebook till I started making connections to what we were learning in class to what was happing in the outside world.  As the year progressed I continued to see my notebook grade go up as soon as I started to that, in which made me a better learner because I focused more on what was going on in class so I could relate to it in my entries.  And by doing this I saw better grades on other assignments and projects.  Almost every entire that I wrote I started out “As a learner in American Studies,” (McLain 03/10/11). Just by starting my entries off like this it gave me many ideas on what to write and make connections about as I progressed through the year. 

                When the year began I knew I was going to have to read a lot.  Before freshman year I was much of a reader to begin with.  As we began to read To Kill a Mockingbird I found myself making connections to my life from the book.  This helped me to find deeper meaning in the book as I read it. One of the quotes I got was “How are you progressing as a reader?” (Scow 01/09/11).  I was progressing as a reader because my comprehension was improving and I was able to write about the in my M&Ms notebook.  Therefore when we got to choose our choice novel, it was easier for me to understand and make life connections to after I finished reading it. Now I have found myself reading more because I can find ways to connect to the books and express that in my M&Ms notebook.  By doing all of this I have found myself becoming a better writer as well.

                In my opinion the best part of the M&M notebook is that it helped me become a better writer.  I feel that each entire I learn something new about myself as a writer in American studies.  I’ve not only learned to how write properly but also how to make connections to what I have learned in class and make that a part of my writing.  Throughout the year I have found that I have become more interested in writing because of my M&Ms notebook.   It has taught me to take my time on writing assignments because if I don’t I tend to make simple mistakes that shouldn’t be made.  I feel that in future English classes I will succeed more than I did this year because I have learned to write properly and dig beneath the surface to find myself as a writer.  One thing I have become better at this year is citing my sources within my writing.  One of my entries this year was about how I have increased my writing scores by citing my sources in my essay.  “This takes a lot of practice!” (Scow 02/21/11). Throughout the year I have practiced citing my sources in my writing and I have found that I have become much better at it. 

                Finally, most students feel that the M&M notebook is just a waste of time.  I believe that it has helped not only me but many other students as well.  The book allows you to write what you feel and what you know rather than just tasking it to get it done.  When I was first introduced to the notebook I thought it was going to be just another homework assignment that came up every week and got in the way of things.  But as the year progressed I learned that there was a purpose to the book and I took advantage of it by finding another side of myself.  Even though the M&M notebook was a fly, bugging and annoying, it was highly beneficial to my learning as an American studies student.  It made me a better reader, writer, and most importantly a better learner.

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Choice lit crit

Literary Critique


                The inspiring and inspirational biography, The Jordan Rules, By Sam Smith, was a fantastic book for me to read and interact with because of the connections I could make to it. Michael Jordan was not only the best athlete to ever live but was also the most gifted and talented player to ever enter the NBA.  Michael attended Laney High School where he grew up at in North Carolina.  As a sophomore in High school Michael was cut from the basketball team, therefore it gave him the fire to strive to be the best basketball player he could be.  Do to this; Michael earned a scholarship to the University of North Carolina.  From the very beginning of Michael’s career at North Carolina he proved that he would become a very good player.  Soon the Michael Jordan Phenomenon erupted and a star was born. 

                Sam Smith does a great job at describing the little details in which makes the book so interesting to go in depth with and make connections to.  As a reader this helped me understand the book and not just task the reading.  I really liked how Sam Smith described Michael Jordan’s impact on the city of Chicago as he became a bull.  Before Jordan came to the Bulls, the United Centers average attendance was 6,365.  In Michaels first year at the United center the average attendance was 11,887(34-35).  Michael’s star power was so great that the city of Chicago expected a ton of the new and improved Bulls team.  Even some of the players that were already on the team salaries’ were decreasing due to the presence of Jordan.  Scotty Pippen’s first contract consisted of about 765,000 dollars in 1990(78-79).  He and Michael really didn’t worry about the money as soon as they found out what they had to look forward to as the Bulls team leaders. 

                This book was great for me to read because I could understand what the players and coaches were talking about, because I have a love for the game and it helps me relate to what the players are going through.  This book really affected the way I look at the game of basketball now.   I realized the in order to succeed you got to have tons of confidence every time you walk out on the court.  “You got to expect things of yourself before you can do them (165-166).” I love this quote by Jordan because it allowed me to understand that saying is essential for not only basketball but every other sport I play. 

                The Jordan Rules was full of imagery that allowed me to feel like I was really on the floor or in the locker room with the team.  While I was reading the book I felt like sometimes I was the sixth man of the team, reason being is because the book described the scene of the games as if you were watching from the bench or the floor.  I really enjoyed that because it made me want to keep reading the book.  “The 1990s model Jordan drives to the basket (178-179).” I liked how Sam Smith used the word “model” because it showed how good Michael was at the game of basketball, almost as if he were a perfect player.

                This book is one of the only books that I have been able to fully understand and enjoy at the same time.  I would recommend this book to any athlete that has a love for basketball.  It taught me things that I could use on and off the court and allowed me to make strong connections to daily life as a basketball player.  And for anyone else that reads this book, they would also feel the same way.  I really enjoyed learning about how much of an impact Michael Jordan had on the city of Chicago and on the game of Basketball.  When I play I try to visualize what he did to perform at the highest level and put that towards me game, just by reading a book I am able to do that.  That was what I loved so much about The Jordan Rules.

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Basketball:A retrospective

Poetry Introduction

                The poem Basketball: A Retrospective, by Stephen Dunn, is a fantastic poem for a reader to go in depth with because it allows the reader to see what the basketball player is doing.  The poem is short but it really gets the point across, while it is describing the athletic abilities of the player.   Stephen Dunn does a great job of pulling the reader in and allowing it to make a picture of what the player is doing.  In the poem there is a really good example of personification.  “My ethics were, and good pair of hands,” (lines 1-2) this is relating the great ethics of the player to his hands because his hands are so valuable.  If the reader were to read this Michael Jordan would come to mind. Michael Jordan’s hands were so important to his game which in the first two lines of the poem it explains that.  If the reader would dig deep and read between the lines of the first verse, many inspirational things can be taken away from it. “A good move, when things were difficult,” (lines 3-4) this line is great at describing the player being able to perform at its best, even when things were difficult. 

Throughout the poem Stephen Dunn uses a lot of imagery to describe what is going on.  In the second verse of the poem it goes more in depth of describing how the player is graceful in the air.  This is why the reader would believe more and more that the poem was based on the game of Michael Jordan. “An exceptional man could change direction,” (lines 5-6) this line is great at showing the talent of the exceptional player, which would keep the reader intact with the meaning of the poem. These lines and verses are great at putting a picture in the readers head but also taking them through the play as it develops. Finally, Stephen Dunn finishes the poem by adding a great line of imagery. “In the air, could thread a needle,” (lines 7-8) the reader can just imagine what the player is doing just by one line, which is great because the whole poem allows the reader to do that. Basketball: A Retrospective, by Stephen Dunn is a great poem for athletes to read because of the connections the reader can make to it, and how great it is at putting a picture in the readers head. 



Dunn, Stephen. American Sports Poems. New York 10016, 1996. Web.

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to kill a mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

                The inspiring story of To Kill a Mockingbird was a great story for me to read because it made me pay attention the whole time I was reading it.  The Finch family, which consisted of Atticus the father, Jem, and Scout, the narrator of the story, made the story very interesting due to all of their obstacles throughout the story.  Atticus is a lawyer in the fictional book To Kill a Mockingbird that is forced to help Tom Robinson win his case of raping a white woman.  Tom Robinson was a good black man that was only accused of one violence crime.  To make that up he had to do chores for Mayella Ewell.  Towards the end of the story after Tom Robinson’s sentence he was shot and killed, I believe that this event was a major part of the story, considering that he did not rape Mayella Ewell.  This shows that even though he was innocent, black men were still treated unfairly.

                To Kill a Mockingbird shows and explains that maturity is very important when growing up as a young kid.  I liked how Scout went very in depth when describing the incident when she and Jem got attacked on the way home from the Halloween pageant (262-264). I really enjoyed how I felt that I was really there when reading that part of the story.  This made me wonder if Bob Ewell was against black men, considering that he attacked the kids of Atticus that was defending a black man in the trial. I feel that one of the turning points of the story is when Jem started to mature into a young boy.  This was addressed when Jem found a roly-poly and didn’t allow Scout to kill it. “It hasn’t done anything to you (238-239)!” Before the end of the book Jem could have cared less about the roly-poly, but due to Atticus’s and Calpurnias help to help Jem become mature it allowed him to make a drastic change of how he carried himself at the end of the story. 

                As a young boy I really could relate to Jem because of how he carried himself as a young boy. Both Jem and I love to have a good time, and mess around with our peers.  He and Scout remind me of my step sister Sara and I, I was always the one that messed around and made for a good time, on the other hand she was always on the boring side, which relates with Scout.  Harper Lee does a great job at explaining Jem and Scouts life, to where I could compare my life as a young boy to the life of Jem and Scout. 

                Like many slow stories, To Kill a Mockingbird took a long time to get to the climax of the story.  This made the book somewhat hard to read in my opinion because at parts of the story it was just Scout talking about her and Jem’s life.  On the other hand I felt that Scout did a great job of describing and explaining what was going on throughout the story, but in many parts I felt as if the story dragged on a little bit in between each event. 

                Even though I had a hard time fully understanding the story, I really enjoyed the moral of the story; I believe that it had an impact on my learning.  It allowed me to reflect to what I was learning in class.  As I keep reading the story I always thought about how much of an impact Tom Robinson had on the story.  I think that the trial and his death showed the city of Maycomb that he was a good man and the he really did not rape Mayella Ewell.  I wouldn’t read this book on my own time because of the lack of action and Humor, but if I were a teacher I would teach this book due to the life lesson it provides to the reader.

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minstrel man

There have been many poems written by Langston Hughes, but many people believe the “Minstrel Man” is one of the finer ones ever written. The poem is great at attaching the readers mind to read between the lines.  Langston Hughes was alive during the Harlem Renaissance and the great depression.  The poem is about the African Americans that are involved in jazz and singing.  In the first verse of “Minstrel Man” it says “And my throat is deep with song,”(lines 3-4) Langston Hughes is talking about a colored man during the Harlem Renaissance, it says that he is singing but he suffers because during the time people as in whites looked at jazz as being illegal music.

                The title of the poem explains a lot about the moral of the poem.  “Minstrel” was a black man that would adopt a stereotypical person or persons to perform music or plays for white people.  It shows this in the second verse, the adopted man is full with laughter and music, but on the other hand nobody hears his cry, which means he struggles with life outside of what he does in the jazz clubs or the motion pictures.  If you were to just read between the lines of the poem you could figure out a lot about the Harlem Renaissance.  A lot of the words in the poem have tons of meaning to where you can find out a lot of information.

                The poems tone is very low and calm.  There is not a lot of stress or hate in it; it just explains what the man that were adopted by the minstrels wet through when they performed for the whites of the 1920s.  At the very end of the poem it says “you do not know I die” (lines 15-16) the poem is a great poem to read and analyze because of the verses and words it consists of.


Hughes, Langston. “Minstrel Man.” www.Americanpoems.com. Web.28 Jan. 2011

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My step sister Sara, my step brother Nathan, and my step dad Jeff and my mom and I were on a cruise with all our cousins from Ohio. I was in the third grade and it was my second cruise I’d ever been on. The ship we were on was the Voyger of the seas, at the time it was the biggest ship on the sea.  To me that was the coolest thing that has ever happened to me as a child.  The ship seemed to be like a city, but on water.  As a child i watched millions of videos of towers, cars, and ships.  All my other childhood friends never watched all the stuff, i obviously did.  But while we were on the cruise there were endless amounts of things to do. There was a full size movie theater, three huge pools with the ships logo at the bottom, a mall to go shopping and a put-put course, and awsome rooms.  My sister and i talked about pulling a prank on my brother Nathan when he arrived to the room. I came up with the best idea ever.  It was fun, funny, fragile, and everything in between. My sister and I were going to put baby blue shaving cream in a glass cup that one of our chocolate shakes came in and tell him it was a blue raspberry smoothie.  When he walked in i acted like I was drinking it.

“Nathan, you want a drink?”

“What is it?” he asked laughing.

“i just ordered from room service, it’s a blue raspberry smoothie,” I said.

“Ya sure I will try it,” he said.

As i watched him put the cup to his mouth ki tried so hard to keep the smile of my face, i did a pretty good job at it.  Usally when I do somthing to my brother I spoil it by laughing and the prank doesnt come through.  As the so called blue raspberry smoothie went into his mouth and down his throat I started to get a bad feeling about the idea since he was only sever years old. As he swallowed the drink my mind turned into a racing rollercoaster, because I knew he was proabley going to through up. As he finished his drink, he looked up at me and gave me the dirtiest look I have ever got.  His eyes boomed at me like a ton of dynamite exploding in my face.  I was so scared that I could of wet five pairs of pants.  I would never do somthing like that again, because next time my mom and step dad would probably find out.

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Bernice Bobs Her Hair

The short story Bernice Bobs Her Hair is about two teenage female cousins that are are on two seprate worlds.  At the beginning of the story Marjorie is ten times more popular than her cousin Bernice.  Bernice is one of those girls that only know how to talk to themselves.  She doesnt know how to properly intacrt with men.  As the story goes on Merjorie teaches Bernice the proper way to talk to men.  As it turns out, that helped Bernice more than she could of dreamt.

What i liked about the short story is that it shows and explains how peer pressure can affect the lives of of teenage kids.  Bernice never wanted to get her hair bobbed, but her cousin Marjorie pressured her into doing it.  However i didnt like how i couldnt relate or make any type of connections to the story so therefore is was hard for me to understand. 

For me the most changelling part of the story to understand was why at the end of the story when Bernice got her hair bobbed everyone turned on her.  I didnt understand because before that all the guys started too really like her.  If i were a Teacher of a ninth grade class, i would not teach this story again.  i feel that not very many students can relate to it. i would want my students to be able to make daily life connections to the story, in which it would be easier for then to understand.  When I think of this story i think of my mom and her mom.  they are so much different i have a hard time thinking thats her mom.  “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” is a good story for female cousins to read, however for teenage guys its not the most interesting story to work with.

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Follow the athlete’s burden

Follow the athlete’s burden

Never give up,

use your mental toughness,

never play as a little pup.


Follow the athlete’s burden,

sweat and bleed due to the hard work,

Have all the confidence,

Dont be a jerk.


Follow the athlete’s burden

have the drive to win,

no matter if you’re bad or good,

Its not always bad to be cheap, its not a sin.


Follow the athlets’s burden,

chase your dream,

Have a goal in what ever  you do,

Be loyal to your team.


Follow the athlete’s burden,

Dont be afarid to make a mistake,

use them as a road to better things,

It may cause terrible aches.


Follow the athlete’s burden,

Be ready to fight,

No matter whom it is,

Never put your head down, there is always that bright light.


Follow the athlete’s burden,

always play smart,

You never know who is watching,

Playing like a champion is  a fine art.



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I chose to write about this topic because many athletes lag the confidence, the work ethic, and the dream many athletes need.  Confidence is one of the most important aspects of being an athlete; it allows the athlete to overcome hard times that they are facing in their career.  It also shows others that you are mentally strong and no weak.  Second you have to have a good work ethic, many athletes feel that they do not need to practice.  But only the great athlets work as hard as they can when no one looking.  Lastly is the athlete needs to have a dream.  A dream cna make an athlete work harder and strive for better things then a person with no dream.  If you have these three main attributes then you will be a very successful athlete.

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A bitter memory

My bitter memory is one that will haunt me forever.  Ever since I was a little boy my mom and Dad always told me not to itch myself no matter how bad it itched.  But as it turns out I didnt listen.  Due to my eczema i always have an itch.  During my 8th grade year i got really sick.  My parents and i didnt know what it was for a month and a half.  So when i stated to get really bad back pains and chills we decied to go to the hosptial.  The doctors did a few tests, and told us that I had a staph infection growing in my spine.  Due to that i had very very bad back pains, in which they put me on vicoden.  As i sat in that hosptial for five gruling days i sat and thought to myself why didnt I listen to my parents.  After that horrible experience I dont itch myslef narly as much.

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