I have been talking with a few of you about plagiarism, and just now I spotted this article about a US senator who has been caught using other people’s words for his college final paper.

New York Times

For what it’s worth, I wrote this entry all by myself, and it didn’t hurt a bit.


You are going to write an account of your life, or the life of someone else in your learning area. If you are writing about another person, you MUST have their permission and cooperation.
• It will be at least 500 words long, and will include complete sentences, lists, headings, and photos.
• It will be written in Standard English, so pay attention to spelling, punctuation, and capital letters.
• It will contain factual information and some opinion
• It will contain material that is appropriate for school.
• You do not have to tell the whole story of your life.
• Concentrate on key experiences and incidents rather than everything.
• You will have at least 150 minutes to complete this piece.
• You can write electronically or on paper.
• Please write with a partner who can give you feedback, encouragement, and suggestions.
If you want inspiration, there are many excellent biographies in our library.

Here is an example that I wrote.
A Practical Guide to Obscurity.

You don’t have to read it all, but even skimming it will give you an idea of the format and style of writing.

Tuesday: Warm Up

__, __, 58, __, __
Write an equation where x=58
Write a true or untrue equation that equals 58. Ask you friend to prove or disprove it.
One dictionary word where the letters add to fifty eight
Find the square root of 58. Can use calculators or phone.
2x=58. What does x equal?

True Grit – Longer Review


The Hollywood western is one of the oldest genres in motion pictures, starting in 1903 with The Great Train Robbery, and some notable names from the real cowboy days appeared in early films. From time to time, there is a resurgence of the classic Western but, even in lean times on computer animation and broad man-child comedies, new classics appear, such as the 2010 film True Grit.

The Coen Brothers, Joel and Ethan, bring us a new take on the 60s novel True Grit, which claims to be based on this novel, and rather than on the 1969 hit for the aging John Wayne. In all its forms, this story is a classic western revenge tale: Mattie Ross, a tenacious and strong-willed teenager, ventures into the wilderness with drunkard US marshal Rooster Cogburn – a man with “true grit” and a foolish Texas Ranger- played with comic aplomb by Matt Damon – to avenge her father.

Damon, Bridges and Hatfield drawn through laconic bone-dry humour in this spare but memorable script. Matt Ross is alternately tough as nails and childlike, while Cogburns stumbled and grunts between drunkenness and drunken kindness. Although Damon as LaBoeuf is largely there for comic relief, he rounds out this unlikely trio. This dusty film mixes the laconic with the memorable as the actors drawl their hyper-formalised lines from this gem of a script.

If you’re ready for a break from giant robots and man-children, this gritty and playful film will make you hold your breath waiting for the next wave of quality westerns.

4 stars.

250 words

Short Review: True Grit

True Grit, directed by iconic and idiosyncratic Joel and Ethan Coen, is traditional Western in many ways, complete with plenty of guns, cowboys and a kind of honour. Mattie Ross, a self-serious teenager, teams up with Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a drunken marshall, to catch and punish her father’s killer. This film is more playful than it sounds, but it for adults, unlike the cleaner and sunnier 1969 film of the same name.

67 words

Instructional Text: How to Make Gravy

I was thinking about instructional texts, like the ones we were writing yesterday, and it reminded me of this Paul Kelly song, so I thought I’d share it with you. Like the best of your writing yesterday, this in about sharing information, and also about strengthening a relationship.

Hello Dan, it’s Joe here, I hope you’re keeping well
It’s the 21st of December
And now they’re ringing the last bells
If I get good behavior, I’ll be out of here by July
Won’t you kiss my kids on Christmas Day
Please don’t let ‘em cry for me

I guess the brothers are driving down
From Queensland and Stella’s flying in from the coast
They say it’s gonna be a hundred degrees
Even more maybe, but that won’t stop the roast

Who’s gonna make the gravy now?
I bet it won’t taste the same
Just add flour, salt, a little red wine
And don’t forget a dollop of tomato sauce
For sweetness and that extra tang

And give my love to Angus and to Frank and Dolly
Tell ‘em all I’m sorry I screwed up this time
And look after Rita, I’ll be thinking of her
Early Christmas morning
When I’m standing in line

I hear Mary’s got a new boyfriend, I hope he can hold his own
Do you remember the last one? What was his name again?
(Just a little too much cologne)
And Roger, you know I’m even gonna miss Roger
‘Cause there’s sure as hell no one in here I want to fight

Oh praise the Baby Jesus, have a Merry Christmas
I’m really gonna miss it, all the treasure and the trash
And later in the evening, I can just imagine
You’ll put on junior Murvin and push the tables back
And you’ll dance with Rita, I know you really like her

Just don’t hold her too close
Oh brother please don’t stab me in the back
I didn’t mean to say that, it’s just my mind it plays up
Multiplies each matter, turns imagination into fact
You know I love her badly, she’s the one to save me

I’m gonna make some gravy, I’m gonna taste the fat
Tell her that I’m sorry, yeah I love her badly
Tell ‘em all I’m sorry
And kiss the sleepy children for me
You know one of these days, I’ll be making gravy
I’ll be making plenty, I’m gonna pay ‘em all back

Letter to Myself at Fourteen

Hello there. I am from the future and not only do we have amazing gadgets, but they are still making Star Wars films, which I figure you might like to know. Now I am going to do that thing that middle-aged people love to do: give advice.

Life will improve considerably. There will be tough patches, but they’ll be the exception not the rule.

Your self-confidence and general ability will improve considerably, so don’t waste too much time worrying about feeling dumb.

You will have a real girlfriend, several in fact. Try not to look too amazed when this happens. Try to treat them with as much kindness as you can muster. Actually, this goes for everyone you value. And, while I’m on the topic, try to avoid the crazy ones. Yes, they are exciting, but that often comes a cost. Kindness is a much better thing look for.

You will get slightly better at sport, but that’s about it.

People who have consistently treated you badly will consistently treat you badly. Keep your distance whenever you can.

Play a musical instrument. It only gets harder when you start late, but you’ll really enjoy it.

Don’t be too certain about all those things you so firmly believe. Some of them are wrong. And that energy you expend arguing with people who think differently is not only wasted, but makes you feel worse and them feel worse, too. Also, you will do some things that you swore black and blue that you wouldn’t, and these things be more rewarding than you could have imagined.

Finally, it doesn’t hurt to be funny, but you could afford to put less energy into this and more into being academic. You’ll be smarter one day, and it feels good.

Oh, one last thing, don’t eat peanut butter that’s been recalled. It will make you sick. And, when all else fails x equals eight.