Readings and Writings Module 3

1 From An Orbit Around the Sun

The first set of texts are stories from our book.

  • “Upward Hand Salute” (Part 2)
  • ” Stigma” (Chapter 4)
  • “He Will Never Know” (Chapter 5)
  • “Forward Fold” (Part 3)
  • “My Fight” (Chapter 6)
  • “King Cutie, His Brother, and a School Shooting” (Chapter 7)
  • “Six Years Later” (Chapter 8)

By now you are beginning to work on your own semester essay. Read these stories from our book not only for their content but how they are put together. Each story is a sample for you to consider as you write your own.

Write a half page response for each of the readings in your notebook.

2 The following videos provide a foundation for your end of semester essay. As you may have noticed by now, story will take center stage in what you write. Watch the following four short videos. Take notes on each in your writer’s notebook. I will check these.

3 The third text is a short video I created on dialogue and how to use it in your semester essay. Watch and read the following page regarding some basic tips for using dialogue.

4 The fourth text is a documentary, White Like Me. The film continues and deepens our conversation on race in America. The film came out in 2013–long before the Trump presidency. Seven years later, we seem to be engulfed in the continued power of denial the film addresses.

When you write about this text, explore what you felt as you watched, what you learned, and what questions you were left with. How does the film help you see the world from a different point of view?

Access the film using your student number as your username and the last four digits of your student number as your password.

5 The firth text is also a documentary taking a more global perspective. Capital in the Twenty-First Century features the work of French economist, Thomas Piketty. Watch with care. Look for connections.

Take time to respond in your notebook. Write about what comes to mind. A writer is always noticing and making connections.

Access the film using your student number as your username and the last four digits of your student number as your password.

6 The next text for this module is also a film. I watched this film over twenty years ago. It left me perplexed and probably in a dorsal vagal state. I share it with some concern but also with an understanding that much of what it depicts, you already know.

Instead of seeing this as an environmental film, I invite you to view it as a larger commentary on the struggles on race and justice in the country. Those struggles come from the same place that the environmental devastation the film depicts. The fires in the forests are an outgrowth of the same society that incarcerates its people at rates nowhere else in the world.

Watch and take notes. I know you would not watch this film unless you were in my course. Because of that, make sure that you do. It is one of those texts that may help you see the world in a more dynamic way.

As with some of the other documentaries, don’t just write about the film, write about what you sensed in your own body as you watched. Check in with yourself. The material is not easy to process.

Consider the following: Is there a connection between the theme of mass incarceration in the United States and the story of environmental devastation? (Think of the millions of buffalo skeletons in one of the scenes and the over 2 million people in prison.) Aim for a half page or full page response.

7 The last text for this module comes from Vietnamese teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. “On Healing the Child Within” is a wonderful complement to the work we have been exploring with polyvagal theory.

I don’t know of anyone who does not suffer. I also don’t know anyone who would not like to stop their suffering. Writing is not something we do merely to communicate with others. It is also a tool that we can use to discover our own voice and in doing so find a path to live with greater ease. Make commitments to yourself not so much to improve yourself, but to find and accept yourself wholeheartedly and without reservations. Doing so is not a once and for all thing. It takes practice, intention, and lots of love.

Did anything in this essay say something to you that matters? Explore in your notebook.


Sections 1 + 2“Upward Hand Salute”
“He Will Never Know”

The four short videos in Section 2
Before ClassNotebook Notes
Sections 1 + 3“My Fight”
“King Cutie…”
“Six Years Later”

Dialogue Lesson
Before ClassNotebook Notes
Sections 4 + 7White Like Me

“On Healing the Child Within”
Before ClassNotebook Notes
Sections 5 + 6Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Earth and the American Dream
Before ClassNotebook Notes