Module ONE - Sept. 8 - Sept. 25

This module covers the idea of family. We all have one, good and bad.

Essential Questions:

What does it mean to be a family?

What are some responsibilities that comes with being a family member?

Is everything forgivable when it comes to family?

Assignment #1 - "Let It Snow" David Sedaris

a. Read the work (see link below)

b. Complete the following questions and submit in the assignment link in Schoology:

1. What does Sedaris mean when he says that he and his sisters “disrupted the secret life” their mother had while they were at school

2. What is your opinion of the last paragraph of the essay? What point is Sedaris trying to express, and, in your opinion, is he successful?

3. Write a paragraph about a decision you made in childhood that led to a negative outcome about which you can laugh today. What was absurd or ridiculous about the situation, the decision, and the outcome? How has time reduced the pain of the memory?

Assignment #2 - Woman Ironing by Picasso

View the painting "Woman Ironing" by Picasso. In the discussion board, explain what you feel the mood is in the painting and why you think that. What can we infer about this woman's life? Why is that? Respond to at least one other student.
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Assignment #3 - "I Stand Here Ironing" - Tillie Olsen

Read the story (In Schoology). Then answer the following questions about the story:

1) What assessment about herself as a mother does the narrator have? Do you think she believes she has been a good mother to her children? Explain with textual evidence.

2) Overall is the story hopeful or hopeless? Explain with textual evidence.

3) How do you think Emily would characterize her relationship with her mother? Do you think she would blame her mother or circumstances beyond their control for the difficulties she has experienced?

Assignment #4 - "I Stand Here Ironing Quiz" - Take in Schoology

Assignment #5 - "I Stand Here Ironing" Interpretive video

Go to and write a 30 second video that either a) addresses the themes within the story “I Stand Here Ironing” OR b) write a 30 second video that address the relationship you have with your mother.

Submit the link to your video here.

Sample videos:

Assignment #6 - Forgiving My Father - Lucille Clifton

Read the poem "Forgiving my Father". Then read the analysis below to help you understand. Finally answer the analytical questions in the discussion board and comment on at least one other student's work.


forgiving my father

by Lucille Clifton

it is friday. we have come

to the paying of the bills.

all week you have stood in my dreams

like a ghost, asking for more time

but today is payday, payday old man,

my mother’s hand opens in her early grave

and i hold it out like a good daughter.

there is no more time for you. there will

never be time enough daddy daddy old lecher

old liar. i wish you were rich so i could take it all

and give the lady what she was due

but you were the son of a needy father,

the father of a needy son,

you gave her all you had

which was nothing. You have already given her

all you had.

you are the pocket that was going to open

and come up empty any Friday.

you were each other’s bad bargain, not mine.

daddy old pauper old prisoner, old dead man

what am i doing here collecting?

you lie side by side in debtor’s boxes

and no accounting will open them up.


In the poem, “Forgiving my Father” by Lucille Clifton, we discover that the parents died and their daughter was haunted by many angry disputes between her parents over money. The daughter seems to be on her mother’s side as she used “old liar” to describe her father. The daughter felt angry and bitter towards her father because she was put in the middle of a difficult marital relationship. She realized that her father was “the son of a needy father” (Clifton, 13). Here, the daughter felt as though the father was raised in a household he had created for their own family and so she realized it was not quite his fault. Towards the end of the poem, the daughter began to gradually forgive her financially irresponsible and emotionally abusive father. Clifton uses this poem to portray the complexity of family relationships and the compounding effect of poverty.

The daughter remembered Friday as payday and she was waiting for her father to pay her mother even though he did not have any money. The daughter criticized her father throughout the poem by describing him as “daddy, old pauper,” “old prisoner,” and “old dead man” (Clifton, 20). These descriptions of her father show us that the daughter emotionally detached herself from her father. In the beginning of the poem, the daughter made it clear that she cannot go on with her life and the mother cannot rest peacefully because they both believed they were owed. The mother and father both died, but the daughter felt as though she was left with the mess they left her and she found this to be completely unfair.

Clifton uses words such as bills, payday, rich, due, pocket, bargain, collecting, debtors, and accounting as single metaphors to describe money as an extended metaphor throughout the poem. The title represents the tone of the poem which is the center of forgiveness. The daughter forgave the “old dead man” (Clifton, 19) despite her feelings of him being solely accountable for the shortcomings. The daughter claimed that there would never be enough time for her father to repay all the monetary and emotional debt he owed to the family.

The daughter was “side by side in debtor’s boxes” (Clifton, 22) to symbolize the lack of love and affection of her father. The father did not provide the love he should have provided to the family to keep their relationship alive. The father left her nothing but the haunting memories of him in her dreams. Clifton uses the simile “All week you have stood in my dreams like a ghost asking for more time” (Clifton, 4). Unfortunately, for the father, there is not any time left so it was up to the daughter to forgive him.

Discussion questions:

1) Should we bury the dead – that is should we let the past go and let bygones be bygones? Or is it necessary to settle old scores?

2) How would you answer the question she gives on line 21 (what am i doing here collecting?)? Is there some way we can collect from the dead?

3) What is the effect of Lucille Clifton not using any capitalization? All her letters are lower case. This is a stylistic effect – why do you think she did this?

Assignment #7 - "Mother to Son" Langston Hughes

Mother to Son

By Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor—


But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps

’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now—

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

After reading the poem, write your own short poem on what advice you imagine you would give your adult child.