About Mr. Armstrong

This will be my eleventh year teaching English Language Arts and my third working at Carthage High School, which I graduated from in 2005. I love being back in my hometown helping our sophomores find an appreciation for reading and writing while challenging them to discover and develop the value, depth, and power of their own voices. Hopefully this will be a year of daring greatly and learning bravely.

 

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About Me

IDENTITY

"When you know yourself, you are empowered.

When you accept yourself, you are invincible."

- Tina Lifford

DRIVING QUESTIONS:

  1. What makes us who we are?

  2. How negotiable is our identity?

  3. What do we use to define ourselves?

  4. How much does identity change over time?

  5. How many versions of you are there?

  6. What happens when your identity results in conflict?

  7. Why are certain things not a part of our identity?

There are hundreds - if not thousands - of pieces that add up to make you who you are. Some of those factors are within your control: they are chosen by you. However, many are not. Part of your identity is embedded deep in your DNA, and thus is perhaps unchangeable and predetermined. Simply stated, our identity is ultimately ours to change, accept, and develop.

Imagine all of the different applications you are or will be filling out in your life, regardless of your future plans. All those questions and checkboxes can read like a menu of gender, race, language, religion, education level, experiences, and more. These options can also read like a list of possibilities that people can decide to adopt as part of their identity, or they can be used against them in the form of prejudice, stereotyping, sexism, or racism.

Aristotle (a wise old dead guy) once said, "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." As you move toward the end of high school and the beginning of whatever comes next, most of you probably try or have tried many different identities on, as you do outfits before leaving home. That's what this stage of life is often about, really. Finding yourself and your place in this big, crazy world.

As our work this quarter will show, the journey towards knowing yourself is often full of surprises, disappointments, victories, doubts, fears, setbacks, and - most importantly - growth. After all, it takes courage to be who you really are.

 

So, who are you? Who do you want to be? Who does the world need you to become?

POTENTIAL core texts

"Relations"
by Eula Biss

The true story of a white woman who gave birth to two babies: a white one, genetically her own, and a black one, the result of a fertility clinic's placement of another couple's embryo in her womb.

Newborn Baby

"The Myth of
the Latin Woman"
by Judith Ortiz Cofer

The author reflects on her cultural identity as a Puerto Rican American woman and the stereotypes she has faced.

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"Cross"
by Langston Hughes

The narrator works through his thoughts and feelings about his identity as the son of a white father and a black mother. 

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"The Fire on the 57 Bus"
by Dashka Slater

The true story of an assault that took place in Oakland, California, a diverse city where wealthy areas contrast sharply with poverty and crime-ridden ones. Two teens from very different backgrounds cross paths and are forever changed by a crime. 

Seat on public transportation

"Just Walk on By:
Black Men & Public Space"
by Brent Staples

A journalist explores the alienation he feels from pedestrians assuming he poses a threat to them simply because he is black, and the adjustments he has made to his own behavior as he walks the streets at night.

Waiting

"Where I'm From"
by George Ella Lyon

A poet considers a wide variety of things that contributed to and shaped the person they have grown to become.

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"Legal Alien"
by Pat Mora

A poet describes the different ways she is viewed and treated by both Mexicans and Americans.

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"Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self"
by Alice Walker

The author details a childhood accident and the impact it had on her self-image throughout much of her life.

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"My Name" from 
The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros

A young Latina girl, growing up in Chicago with Chicanos and Puerto Ricans, considers the origins of her name.

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"Digging"
by Seamus Heaney

A writer sets to work at his desk, but a glimpse of his father through the window prompts a series of recollections about his childhood and family.

Calligraphy pen

"Fish Cheeks"
by Amy Tan

On Christmas Eve, a Chinese family invites American friends, a minister's family including a boy the narrator has a crush on, for a very traditional dinner.

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"We Wear the Mask"
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

A narrator considers how people hide their true feelings behind a false expression. 

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES