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

RELATIONSHIPS

"No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."

-John Donne

 

DRIVING QUESTIONS:

  1. How has our culture shaped and changed you?

  2. Other than people, what do you have deep, meaningful connections with?

  3. Have you ever been through the end of a relationship?

  4. How has technology impacted your relationships?

  5. How well can we really know others and ourselves?

  6. What is your relationship with violence?​

  7. How can our bonds change over time?​

  8. What makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy?

As we navigate the uncharted waters of 2019 and the years that will follow, many of you will rely on your friends and family for encouragement and guidance. Others will turn to our culture and other communities for support, understanding, and acceptance. During this time, many things may feel unsettled, beyond your control, and unknowable. Perhaps the most truthful thing you can say about your relationships is that they are always changing. We are simultaneously more and less connected to each other than ever, as the readings in this unit will demonstrate. Technology has transformed our relationship not only with each other but also with nature and the environment. Now, instead of going to the park or taking a hike in the woods, you may instead focus on whether you should use the image of the trees or the beautiful trail for your next Snap or Instagram post. You may spend too much time picking the perfect filter.  You may miss the scenery and then end up deleting all of the pictures anyways.

 

 

What matters most is that we have relationships, for as the pieces in this unit illustrate, it is our relationships - with our community, the natural world, and especially the people we let close to us - that bring the greatest happiness and contribute most to our physical, spiritual, and mental health.

 

 

Those connections become a defining part of who we are (identity) and who we want/need to become (credo). 

POTENTIAL core texts

"The Facebook Sonnet"
by Sherman Alexie

In this poem, the speaker reflects on the strange melding of past and present that can occur online thanks to social media.

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"Guilty As Not Charged"
by Darin Strauss

The writer discusses the tragic accident that took place when he was eighteen and significantly altered his life forever after.

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"The Sixth Extinction"
by Elizabeth Kolbert

A science writer recounts her trip to Panama to learn about the ominous and catastrophic decline of the worldwide frog population.

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"Echo & Narcissus"

Retold by Thomas Bullfinch

The myth of Echo, a mountain nymph, and Narcissus, a young man who falls in love with his own reflection.

Connect to "We're All Narcissus Now" by Devin Foley

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"Deer Hit"
by Jon Loomis

The speaker remembers a drunken night behind the wheel of a car, and the pain he caused and lives with to this day.

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"No Man is an Island"
by John Donne

The speaker considers how human beings do badly when isolated from others and need to be part of a community in order to thrive. 

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"Coming Home Again"
by Chang-Rae Lee

Lee looks at his relationship with his mother through the lens of cooking and Korean food.

Connect to Pixar's
Short Film Bao.

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"The Last Rung
on the Ladder"

by Stephen King

Larry is burdened with deep guilt and regret after discovering that his estranged sister has committed suicide.

"How Falling in Love
is Like Owning a Dog"
by Taylor Mali

A poet compares taking care of a pet with maintaining a loving and lasting relationship with a loved one.

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"The Deck"
by Yusef Komunyakaa

A building project causes the speaker to remember and enter into an imaged conversation with his father.

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"Living with neighborhood violence may shape

teens' brains"

by Darby Saxbe

A professor of psychology examines the impact that growing up surrounded by violence can have on teenagers and the way they think.

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"Thousands Of High School Sweethearts Prepare For Post-Graduation Breakup"
Parody Article from
The Onion

A humorous article detailing the wave of relationship ending break-ups that occur between high school graduation and the start of college.

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UNIT RESOURCES

  • "The App Generation" Lecture by Howard Gardner (Youtube)

  • "Why our screens make us less happy" Ted Talk by Adam Alter (Youtube)

  • "To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Teenage Daughter" by Jesse Parent (Youtube)

  • "For My Grandmother" by Phil Kaye (Youtube)

  • "Montauk" by Sarah Kay (Youtube)

  • "An Origin Story" by Phil Kaye and Sarah Kay (Youtube)

  • "19 Mexicans" by Joaquin Zihuatanejo (Youtube)

  • Lettermen ESPN Documentary (Link to Short Film)