Friday, October 31, 2014

Independent Reading Assignment: Non-Fiction: Take Action!!!

For second quarter, the 10th grade team worked together to create this assignment - which I had fun completing myself, so I am hopeful that my students will enjoy it as well.  

So often in English class we read texts that are VERY literary.  This is designed to introduce kids to a very practical type of reading and to expose them to a style of reading that they can DIRECTLY apply to their lives.  The assignment is also meant to expose them to a modern means of communication, which is growing in popularity every year.

We each setup a separate blog for the kids to post on - the links are left off, because they are not public.

I also created two posts - see below - for the kids to access as examples.  I am very excited to see what they come up with for this one.


Independent Reading Project
 Non-Fiction: Take Action!
 Quarter 2

Learning Goals:
·         CSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
·         CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
·         CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.2
Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.

Prompt: In the academic setting, non-fiction texts are directly connected to learning new knowledge.  However, non-fiction texts can also be quite practical: reading non-fiction texts can serve to improve your performance/skills in connection to a hobby/practice/sport/activity. For your Quarter 2 Independent Reading Project, you will read a non-fiction text whose content is closely connected to a passion in your personal life.  Over the course of the quarter, you will blog about the text that you are reading and the ways that it is helping you to improve your understanding/practice of your passion.  Consider the following question in relation to your reading: How are you using evidence from this text to improve your performance in your chosen activity?

Part 1: Select a non-fiction/informational text about an activity that you are interested in practicing.

Part 2: As you are reading, apply the content of your reading to your actual life and blog about it.  Each blog post should directly:
·         Reference your text (in the form of a quote AND a piece of paraphrased information)
·         Include a properly formatted MLA citation
·         Clearly explain the impact the reading has had on the activity in which you are engaged
·         Include a thought-provoking question in order to engage your peers
A minimum of 5 posts (and 10 text references) are required for full credit.  Make certain to use tags, so that other students with similar interests can follow your posts.  Each time that you post, you will also need to include your full name as one of the tags (Last, First).  Inclusion of images, and specifically images of you engaging in the activity, will make your blog posts much more engaging/interesting.

Because blogger only allows 100 members per blog, each teacher will have an individual blog.  Your comments, however, can be on any of the following blogs:

Blog Address




Part 3: Read the posts of your peers and comment (positive/uplifting comments only) on the insights they are gathering.  For full credit you will need 5+ comments. In each comment you will thoughtfully address the content of your peer’s post and directly reference your personal research/experience.

Part 4: Respond to comments from your peers on your blog posts.  For full credit, you will need to respond directly and thoughtfully to ALL comments made on your posts.

Part 5: On January 23 (the end of the quarter), you will need to submit screen shots of all of your work.  You will want to include your original posts, your response to comments on your post, and the comments that you made on the posts of others.

Tips for Effective Blogging:
Here are some suggestions for being an effective blogger:
  • WRITE engaging, thought-provoking, and intelligent posts that encourage others to respond.  Each post should have an argument, express a point of view, and indicate an openness to conversation (often by asking a question that invites reader comment).
  • RESPOND to those who comment, to foster dialogue.
  • IDENTIFY people named.  This is both courteous, and can let others know you're talking about them, which can encourage discussion.  If you are responding to someone's previous comment directly, let them know and use their name.
  • EXPRESS an opinion, or at least a strong angle.  Give people something to talk about.
  • ASK a question.  Make it clear that you are open to interaction.
  • WRITE clearly and correctly. Apply English conventions that we have been learning in class.
  • Respect boundaries and etiquette: be kind and courteous.

Quarter 2 ends on January 23.
Your reading and blog posts should be completed by then. 

My Example Posts: 

These posts are NOT meant to be instructional.  They are about a personal endeavor of mine.  Some of these postures are extremely dangerous and can result in severe injury.  This type of yoga is ADVANCED, takes years to master and should not be attempted without the direct supervision of a well-qualified yoga instructor.


I have been working on this posture for about a month and for some reason it has been evading me completely.  Prior to reading this book I was barely able to get my feet six inches off the ground.  For some reason the balance of this posture just was not making sense and I felt as if I was going to break my neck every time that I attempted it.

My first error in regards to this posture was the name.  I was just calling it "pincha".  David Swenson expanded my understanding of the terminology associated with this posture in his book, Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual.  According to Swenson, the full name of this posture is "pincha myurasana" (178).  He writes that "pincha = feather" and "mayura = peacock" (178).  From earlier reading I have also learned that "asana" means "posture" (7).  Thefore the full name of this posture can be translated to mean, "feather of the peacock posture" (178).

For this posture, David suggested starting in dolphin pose (179) (this is the beginner version), which is a part of my daily practice.

Swenson's next suggestion is what really tipped my practice over the edge: he suggested using a chair in order to establish the balance for this posture (179).  The chair was a miracle.  The balance clicked and after only using the chair a few times, I knew I was ready to move on.

I was ready for the advanced version.  It took me a few times with my feet on the wall and then I was actually holding my first pincha ever!!!  I found that making certain to point my toes to the sky, as David suggests (179) really helped me to balance.  I also made certain to flex every part of my body and found that the balance was much easier with these elements in place.

As Swenson writes, "yoga is a lifelong journey" (264) and just having hit this posture a bit is not enough for me.  My next goals will be to hold it for 15 seconds, then 30, then a minute and finally to figure out some interesting variations.

I am wondering if any other yogis out there have found props to be helpful in mastering a pose?

Swenson, David.  Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual. Korea: David Swenson and Eric Sod, 1999.


At yoga class the teacher shouts over the music: "suppaa  kamanasumasaana" (or at least that's what I hear) and to be honest, in the past I have always just ignored the fancy yoga terminology and waited for the English translation.  Reading this book, however, is giving me a new understanding and appreciation for the terminology involved with this sport.  According to David Swenson, the author of Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual, Supta Kurmasana can be translated to mean the following: "Supta = Sleeping" and "Kurma = Tortoise" (104).  In the introduction section of the book, Swenson wrote, "Asana means Posture" (7).  This fancy name means "Sleeping Tortoise Posture" (104).  Now that makes perfect sense and now it makes sense why my instructors seem to add "asana" on to the end of everything they say.
According to, the sleeping tortoise pose should look something like this:
David offers three variations for this pose: one is the advanced version (shown above), another is an intermediate version, where the legs are extended, but not behind the head and, if needed a strap is used instead of direct clasping of the hands, and for the easiest version David suggests laying the hands down by the sides palm up (104).  I think I am a ways off from doing the advanced version injury free.  But I have done the other two versions many times in my practice.  I am going to use the hint provided in this book: "In order to take the hands behind the back it is imperative that the shoulders move under the knees.  You may then rotate the shoulders, which will enable the elbows to bend freely" (104) and see what I can accomplish.

There I go.  Getting my shoulders under my knees was easier said than done and the finger tips of my hands are barely grazing each other, but my head is on the ground and my feet are together right in front of it!!!  I call that a success.  Perhaps with enough practice I will get a foot, or maybe two behind my head one day.  I found Swenson's advice about getting my shoulders under knees to be especially helpful.  I might give this another go later and see if I can make any more progress.  Like Swenson says, "yoga is a lifelong journey" (264) and mastering a pose can take years.

I couldn't quite get the full expression of this posture and I am wondering if any other practitioners have suggestions for mastering this one?

Swenson, David.  Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual. Korea: David Swenson and Eric Sod, 1999.
Steiner, Ronald and Team. "Supta Kurmasana." International Info Page for Ashtanga Yoga. 28 October 2014 .

No comments:

Post a Comment