Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friday's Essay

1. I will have a list of names on the screen, so you don't have to worry about spelling.
2. Bring "unfringed" paper and a pen with blue or black ink.
3. You'll have the entire period to write.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hamlet Papers: The Grades

Most students did fine on the paper. Their score reflect the grades they earned. Seven students scored 100%. Another 20 students earned scores in the "A" range!

Now, some students did not include the minimum amount of research in their papers. Those students lost significant points for that. The lowest score these folks will have entered for them is 65%.

Any student who had the correct number of cited sources did not score less than 70%.

When needed I raised grades to that level.

I have entered the grades into the grade book, but need another day or two to get the grades marked of the papers.

Monday, May 11th will be the day that I will have after school for students who want to build a CEW case of why their paper was assessed incorrectly. Remember:
1. Build the best case you can; you are arguing to convince me my initial assessment was incorrect.
2. Respect works more positively than disrespect.

Things Fall Apart In-Class Essay Prompts

In an effort that you might better prepare, here are the prompts you might be assigned to write from on Friday:

Your purpose in writing this essay is to demonstrate your mastery of Thing Fall Apart as well as the literary lenses we have been using in class. The best way to do that is to create an interesting claim, use specific textual evidence, and develop clear warrant to explain “how” or “why” the evidence supports your claim.
Excellent essays will use evidence throughout the text to support the claims. Excellent essays move beyond plot summary to analysis.

Achebe has said that he wrote Things Fall Apart in response to the quotations below from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Examine Things Fall Apart to explain what Achebe’s response to Conrad is. You can comment both on the content as well as the structure of the novel.

"Once I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast. There wasn't even a shed there and she was shelling the bush. It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts. Her ensign drooped limp like a rag, the muzzles of her long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull, the greasy, slimy swell swung her up lazily and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech--and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives--he called them, enemies--hidden out of sight somewhere.”

In the last chapter of Things Fall Apart, the reader learns that the Commissioner is writing a book entitled The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger. React to this book, its title, and its message from a postcolonial point of view. Remember the Commissioner’s reaction to Okonkwo.

Chielo is a powerful woman in this male-dominated society. Explore her power and explain the insight it gives us about women, their roles, and the Ibo culture.

Okonkwo fears “appearing weak.” Explore whether this fear adds to his strength or to his weakness. Explain clearly your position.

Examine what the women’s stories and the men’s stories of this culture illustrate about gender roles. How do the two types of stories strengthen the culture?

Power is examined in Feminist, Marxist, and Postcolonial literary analysis. Identify the character in the novel you think is the strongest. Define your use of strength. Use illustrations from the text and clear warrant to build your argument.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Brown both influence Umuofia. Explain their influence. Explore and explain what things you think the Ibo would consider positive and what they would consider negative. Avoid ethnocentrism as best you can.

Explain what falls apart in Things Fall Apart. Identify the cause/catalyst of the fall. Build a strong argument to support your position.

Hamlet Papers--Process

Tuesday, May 5th after school will be the time I have set aside for students who want to show me "process work" that hasn't been entered in the grade book. You need to bring in your entire process so that we can look through things together. Remember the work needs to have my initials or a stamp on it to be timely.

Term Presentations Bonus Point Opportunity

If you are current with assignments and want to spend more time reviewing terms for the AP test and want to put together a presentation "on your own," I have prompts that were not chosen for each class. I will be available after school on Thursday to distribute left overs.


Bonus Point

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Showcase Portfolios

Students will be assembling two showcase portfolios in and out of class for a final project. The first will be a skills portfolio; the second will be a literature portfolio.

The Skills Portfolio
Check the skills as outlined on the class syllabus. It can be found on the school web site.
You will showcase those skills as well as your ability to solve problems, to set and meet goals, to work as a group member, to accomplish work alone, to meet deadlines, and to evaluate your strengths and to overcome your shortcomings.

The Literature Portfolio will include and highlight

all the work that you have done with literature during your AP experience (11th and 12th or 12th grade).
--the reading notebooks for all the literary texts that we have study this year including those assigned as summer work
--annotations for the texts you have read
--in-class and take-home essays based on the literature you have read
--dialogue journals
--poetry: copies, presentations, and explications
--presentations that you have given based on literature
--You Hamlet paper (some may want to revise it.)

To get ready for this, recall that we have worked with these major texts: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; Metamorphosis; The House on Mango Street; Oedipus Rex; Macbeth; Hamlet; Heart of Darkness; Things Fall Apart; Their Eyes Were Watching God.

You may want to organize your materials base on trimester and then on text. Remember we have all the short pieces we have worked with as well.

Be thinking about the improvements that you have made.

What's Coming Up...

Monday, April 27th--
in class essay on additional text
Students who are going on a music tour this week need to come in to see me after school with others from your class for the terms assignment

Poetry Presentation
Review of Friday's essay
Terms Groups (assignment given)
Study group--review Marxist, Feminist, Postcolonial lenses as they relater to Things Fall Apart

Poetry Presentation
Term Time
Literary Lens time

Friday, May 1st
Final in-class essay on Things Fall Apart

Monday, May 4th
Group Term Presentations
Poetry Presentation
Deconstruct test prompts

Poetry Presentation
More test work

MAY 7, 2009
AP Literature test

Friday, May 8th
Poetry presentations (make up for May 7th)

Monday, May 11th
Showcase Portfolio work begins. Come prepared by bringing your "stuff"!

What's Coming Up...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poetry Presentations--even more suggestions

Thanks for the good job folks did with very little time to prepare. I have some comments and one functional change.
1. Practice!
2. You might save time for us if you include the theme on the handout. If you want to get us actively involved, leave out "major concepts" when listing it say we can "fill in the blanks." That will keep us listeners involved.
3. Be really careful of stereotypes--sometimes they offend people when that probably isn't your intent.
4. CHANGE--Beginning next week--I will set the timer for fifteen minutes as I am timing your presentation. It will go off--you will have one minute to close your presentation. What you don't get to, you don't get to.
5. Practice!

Poetry Presentations--more suggestions

1. Practice your whole presentation out loud and time it. People are going over 16 minutes. Make sure you don't include filler that has little purpose.
2. Practice reading your poem with expression. The expression should help your audience understand the poem better. Take your time with the words. Savor them... Don't read the poem just to finish it.
3. PowerPoint presentations are taking up time because people are needing to set them up. Get it set up before school!

Poetry Presentations--Some suggestions

Hey folks,
Been evaluating poetry presentations this week and I have some suggestions.
1. Read the score sheet to know how you will be evaluated. It seems to me some people are spending time developing AV materials--which is fine--when the time might be better spent practicing reading the poem--presenting their material--or honing their analysis using a literary lens.
2. If you plan to use a PowerPoint presentation, music, video clips, etc. make sure they enhance your presentation. If they don't, you have "wasted your time." Sorry if that sounds harsh. If they distract from your presentation, then you have sabotaged yourself.
3. Power point presentations should be used so that people in the back of the room can easily read the KEY POINTS from the back of the room! Remember your assessor (oh, that's me!) is back there. Strong contrast between font and background is essential to do that! Size of font is vital. Remember just because you can read it on the monitor doesn't mean your audience will be able to read it from the screen.

Music Tours

For students who are on music tours--some suggestions:
1. Use the time on the bus wisely--read (I'm guessing you have things to read!)--bring along literary terms and work up "games" to learn/review those terms with other AP folks.
2. Be sure you have a dependable study buddy at home who will get the information about what we are doing in class.
3. Don't wear yourself out with the excitement of the tour--remember we will be moving forward while you are away and you will be "catching up" on your return--and it will be only days before the test.

Monday, April 20, 2009


With the work we have been doing with themes, I have noticed many students are playing it safe (eg. "Love is good." "People perceive things differently."). It's time to take a bold stand; get off the fence; don't hedge!

Challenge yourself!
Risk being gloriously wrong!

"Out, out" TSP-FASTT Nicole and Joel

As promised, here it is 4th hour:
Title: "Out, Out--" Why is it in quotations??
Speaker: Third person, not involved in the situation
Paraphrase: After an accident, a boy dies and life resumes for everyone else.
Figurative: Juxtaposition between pleasant and unpleasant, allusion, personification
Attitude: Switches between serene and stressful, calm, morbid
Shifts: shift in tone/mood between lines 9-10, shifts in tone/mood between lines 26-27
Title: "Out, Out--" is an allusion to a scene in Macbeth in which Macbeth is talking about Lady Macbeth who has just died
Theme: Life is brief and may be over in an instant, but we must not let that hinder us from enjoying out lives.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Schedule for Next week

Because of an English Department, a faculty meeting, and conferences, I will be unavailable after school Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday this week. If you want to stop by conferences from 3-8 for a brief chat, that will work.

I will be available after school on Tuesday. I'll be around before school as well. Remember that Tuesday is my hall duty in the Media Center day.

Homework for Monday

We spent time looking at the results of the practice test. Students are to type a list of five things they will do to "fill the holes" to prepare for the AP test. This can include terms, vocabulary, analysis. So for instance:
1. I need to remember that theme means the lesson the author wants the reader to take from the text. (I have identified the term and have defined it correctly.)
If you were absent Friday, I think if you were to think about what you have already mastered and what you need work with, you could complete this. You could check your test before school or after school on Tuesday this next week.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poetry Presentations

Two things:
1. If you have been scheduled a time that you discover won't work for you, find a group that will switch times. Generally people are more amenable to switch if it means they can go later. Put the change in writing and have everyone involve sign off on it. Get it to me ASAP.
2. If you and your partner decide you want to change poems, find a couple of different ones you would like to use, come in after school and check to see if they are available to use.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hamlet Papers

I have divided the papers into piles of ten--with two from each of my five classes.
I read my first set of ten papers are was perplexed because of the quality of some of the work. If I were to use the standard grading curve, students grades would have plummeted in some cases.
I became despondent because after spending as much time as we had on the paper, the results were disappointing.
I decided just to mark the papers with the categories "exemplary," "standard," "below standard." I thought, I'll figure out how to assess points to them later.
That has helped a lot!
It also help a great deal to know the the first ten seemed to be an anomaly. Papers since then have been marked in their improvement.

So, what does all this mean...
I have assessed about 30 papers. I am going to hang on to them until I can figure out how to attach points to them...

Trust want me to do this!

PS. And for those of you who are wondering whose papers were included in the first ten, it's none of your business!

Second Hour Poetry Presentation schedule

Because of my mix-up, here, as promised is the second period poetry schedule:
2nd Hour

April 20th Zach Shay; Jane Yi
April 22nd Liz Harris; Liz Pederson

April 28th Matt Philips; Hannah Sanborn
April 30th Stephen Morris; Andy Showalter

May 5th Trevor Knapp; Joe Norton
May 8th Anne Brink; Margo Helvick

May 12th Annika Fink; Michelle Wang
May 14th Heather Bodin; Alyssa Ebnet

May 19th George Lu; Nick Willis
May 21st Ben Larson; Ian McCoy

Thursday into Friday homework

I want you to evaluate how well you met your listening goal from the presentations. Put it in writing for me. Think about the best way to do this and type it up for me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hours 1-3

Please come to class next period with a list of dates you will not be available for poetry presentations. I will be putting them together based on those lists. Students who volunteer to go toward the beginning (especially the first week) will be given preference!

This process worked well in 4th and 6th hours.

Two Things for This week

1. Be sure to bring your copy of Heart of Darkness so that you can follow along in the presentations. Plan on a short assessment of your listening to the presentations.
2. Friday be ready to read and annotate a poem by Achebe. In class practice for the AP test. You may want to review SOAPSTone or TSP-FASST. You also have the rubric for strong annotation. I will be using it for evaluating your work!

Poetry Presentations

1. They will begin Monday, April 20th (A-Day next week).
2. The presentations will ask you to do what you did last trimester with THE ADDITION OF USING A LITERARY LENS in your interpretation of the text.
3. You will have the rubrics by Friday this week.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Practice Test make-up

I will be available for people to make up the test on Tuesday, April 14th or Thursday, April 16th after school. Plan to be here one of those times.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dates and Deadlines to May 1st

Monday, April 13th
Additional Novel and Dialogue Journal partner
Poetry Partner

Tuesday, April 14th
Discussion on Chapters 1-7 of TFA

Monday, April 20th
Poetry Presentations begin

B-day Discussion Part 1 of TFA.

Monday, April 27th
In Class Essay on addition novel

Literary Lens presentation on TFA

Friday May 1st
Poetry explication—In class essay.