Friday, February 28, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 28, 2014

Focus: How can Vonnegut help us understand our book club books (even the ones not written by Vonnegut)?

1. Warming up with a little Vonnegut:

2. Enjoying intellectual discussions: Book Clubs, Day 3

3. Assessing your own Socratic value this week:

8/9: I was completely prepared and brought my book club to new heights. I could not have done much better, and I helped my book club understand parts of my book that they may not have otherwise considered.

6/7: I was prepared each day and contributed thoughtfully to our discussions.

5: I wasn't quite as prepared as I should have been, but I did contribute once or twice.

3/4: I was a distraction to my book club.  They would have been better off without me.

1/2: I insulted members of my book club, alienated myself, and was a general disgrace to the English language. My book club made me sit in the corner.

NP: I was a non participant, either because of absence or extenuating circumstances.

1. Assigned book club reading for Monday.

2. Complete your next poetry response for Monday.

3. Start thinking about topics for your poetry paper or project.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 27, 2014

Focus: How can metacognitive thinking help us unravel a challenging poem?

1. Warming up by celebrating the life and times of Aya

From Mrs. Little: Aya is very conscientious in AP Psych and though she more quiet than other students, she still has participated and contributed in a meaningful way to the class. I have asked her on a number of occasions to compare the  traditions and emphasis of Eastern cultures with that of  Western cultures.  She has provided the class with insights that would not be obtained from the textbook.

From Mrs. Leyden: Aya is competitive in Volleyball and Badminton. She always is smiling. She is a positive person.

From Mr. Krause: I've always appreciated Aya's thoughtful responses and wonderful smile. 

From Mrs. Hawthorne: CREATIVE, inventive, courageous, grounded, quiet - yet says what needs to be said when it matters, she knows who she is and she isn't afraid to be herself in any given situation, she is FABULOUS.  I know that she is one that will take her talents and do something great in life. 

From Aya's mom: Your smile always makes me smile.  You are my best friend now and forever.

2. Reminding you what a good a metacognitive writing looks like (working from moments and questions to movements and patterns to multiple meanings):

Click HERE to see Whitney's.
Click HERE to see Mike's.

3. Composing your metacognitive

Please make sure you title it, "_____________ 's Second Metacognitive" and share with

1. Finish your metacognitive if you did not do so during class.
2. Assigned book club reading.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 26, 2014

Focus: What are starting to understand about our book club books?

1. Warming up: A few quick reminders about your paper/project poem

  • Please bring in a HARD COPY of your poem tomorrow.
  • Your poem must be of a different genre than your first semester poem.
  • Your poem should be challenging; you shouldn't feel like one, two, or even three readings of it are enough.

2. Enjoying book club time!

3. Sharing your opening or closing activity to garner some ideas

1. Bring a hard copy of your poem to class tomorrow for your metacognitive (you may also wish to bring your own laptop if that's an option for you).

2. Assigned book club reading for Friday.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 25, 2014

Focus: What can sestinas teach us about poetic form and meaning?

1. Warming up with "A Miracle for Breakfast"

Moment (Which words, phrases, images, etc. make you pause?)
Movement (What patterns start to emerge? Where do you see progress, regression, shifts, repetition, circularity?
Multiple Meanings (What complex ideas can infer about the speaker, situation, tone, themes?)

How does the structure of the poem fit its multiple meanings?

2. Trying out "Sestina" as a class; attacking the multiple choice as individuals

3. Working through some of the harder questions together

1. Assigned book club reading/syllabus for tomorrow.

2. Bring your paper/project poem to class on Thursday for your metacognitive writing.

Monday, February 24, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 24, 2014

Focus: What do the early chapters of our book club books establish?

Please turn in your poetry responses and grab a new poetry packet.

1. Warming up: Establishing a few basic book club expectations

2. Meeting with your book clubs: Day 1!

3. Regrouping and sharing successes (and failures?) from your first day of book clubs

1. Book club assigned reading/syllabus for Wednesday.

2. Decide on your next poem for the paper/project by Thursday and bring it to class (I'd like a hard copy, please) for your metacognitive.

Friday, February 21, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 21, 2014

Focus: How do AP Lit book clubs work?

1. Warming up: Listening to a page from each of the book club possibilities:

James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Albert Camus' The Stranger
Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five
Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre
Ian McEwan's Atonement

2. Taking a little more time to peruse and form book clubs

3. Setting up the reading and syllabus calendar with your book club and establishing the means by which you will share information with me...Google folder? Google site? Blog? Good old-fashioned notebook?

Book clubs will meet on the following eight days:
February 24, 26, and 28
March 3, 5, 17, 19, and 21
Note: March 21 will be your final discussion day for book clubs.

4. Searching for that next poem, and, if you're ready, running it by me

1. Your first book club meeting is this Monday; complete your assigned book club reading/syllabus.

2. Poetry response #6 due this Monday-ish.

3. Decide on your poetry paper/project poem by next Thursday and bring it to class for a metacognitive writing.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 20, 2014

Focus: How can we improve our responses to Question 3?

1. Warming up: Celebrating Emma!

From Mrs. Little:  "Emma is so positive and conscientious in all
that she does. When absent, she  comes in right away to make up any work
from class. Emma impresses me as being a very thoughtful person in her
interactions with others. I have enjoyed having Emma in class as I have all
the students you have asked me to provide comment on."

From Mr. Kuhlmann: "With Emma, still waters truly do run deep. I'm not sure who said this, but it very well could have been Emma herself! I've never met a student with a more attentive and calm and kind demeanor, whose mind is on fire, breathing with and fed by her synthesis of information, both in class and in the world, writ large."

From Mara: "Emma's a great sister! I can always count on her to go on a late night coffee runs with me or just hang out watching a Netflix marathon. She's always super supportive and fun to be around!"

From Emma's final reading ticket on Beloved: "Just like Beloved, loneliness cannot be soothed to sleep or into peace. Just like Beloved, loneliness constantly begs to be remembered and present...It seems that as more time passes, the more of a dream she becomes. She isn't real after she departs. She doesn't exist in the physical world. Her ideas, her words, and her actions are no longer tangible and what was once concrete and real becomes abstract."

From her mom: "Emma’s sense of adventure runs deep:  Across beautiful lands, through challenging ideas, and within the depths of her own curiosity – with gratitude, always."

2. Workshopping your essays in small groups: Past events, morally ambiguous characters, or happy endings

a. Talk through the prompt...what was the heart of the prompt? What did you think the prompt meant?

b. Read through the rubric and identify the primary difference between a 4 and a 5, a 5 and a 6, a 7 and an       8/9, etc.

c. Peruse the sample essays and discuss what you think they might have received based on the rubric.

d. Pass your essay clockwise, and comment on the following:

  • Thesis, topic sentences, and overall organization

e. Pass the essays clockwise once again, and comment on the following:

  • Examples and close readings/analysis

f. Pass the essays clockwise once again, and comment on the following:

  • Style (word choice, sentence fluidity, maturity, etc.)

g. Retrieve your own essay, and based on your editors' feedback and on the rubric, estimate what grade range you think your essay falls in.  Give a brief explanation of the grade using language from the rubric.

1. Next poetry response is due Monday.

2. Start thinking about which poem you'd like to explore for your poetry paper/project; remember that it must be from a different era than that of your first semester poem.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 19, 2014

Focus: How can we synthesize our analyses of Beloved?

1. Warming up: Looking over your Invisible Man writings and highlighting a few successful moments (of which there were many):

Emma's thesis: The recurring image of the Sambo represents the narrator's inability to escape the stereotype as a black man throughout his self-discovering and self-empowering life journey.

Mackenzie's topic sentence: This series of "battle royals" always leave the narrator harmed in one way or another; every "battle" takes something away from him.

Nick's close reading: The quest into the subconscious resumes later, when the nameless narrator faints in a paint factory. This scene shows the darkness lying in the fear the black community keeps. This scene introduced itself with imagery straight from Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," describing "Fields of green, red roses, too..clouds of white," etc. There is a dark twist, however, as the "clouds of white" describe a frightening swarm of gnats, signifying the oppressive white community and ruining the scene. The otherwise peaceful scene abruptly shifts to a cold, dark, sterile hospital, with a doctor wishing to experiment on him. A frightening truth is shown here, as doctors would experiment black patients pre-1950s. Here, the doctor wishes to try a lobotomy, which causes brain death, essentially. The narrator finds himself unable to speak for himself out of fear, directly connecting to the fear of rebuke and the silenced state of the black of community.

2. Composing your timed writing on Beloved; you have FOUR choices today

1. Start thinking about what poem you'd like to explore for your poetry paper or project (remember that this semester's poem must be from a different movement/time period that your poem from first semester).

2. Compose your next poetry response by next Monday.

3. Enjoy a light week in A.P.'s so rare, and you've earned it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 18, 2014

Focus: How can we synthesize our thoughts on Beloved as a whole?

Please turn in your critical reviews and help yourself to a new poetry packet!

1. Warming up: Watching an interview with Toni Morrison about Beloved

2. Perusing a few exemplary blogs:

For voice and organization, take a look at Natalie's blog on Henry IV. or Mara's blog on WH.
For wonderfully specific details and close readings, peruse Emily's blog on WH or Mike's blog on anything.

3. Composing your big question blog post on Beloved\

1. Finish your big question post on Beloved (tomorrow we will have our Beloved timed writing).

2. Start thinking about the poem you'd like to explore for your poetry paper or project.

Friday, February 14, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 14, 2014

Focus: What light does Part 3 shed on the rest of Beloved?

1. Warming up: Consider these words...



a prefix...used with the meaning “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition, or with the   meaning “back” or “backward” to indicate withdrawal or  backward motion


a Latin prefix meaning “apart,” “asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” or having a     negative, or  reversing force 


a prefix meaning “not,” freely used as an English formative, giving negative or opposite force 

(thank you,, for the above definitions)

What do these words have in common?
What is the difference between these words?
How do they fit Sethe's journey? Paul D's? Denver's? Beloved's?

2. The final Beloved Socratic seminar: Part 3

1. Critical review essay due Tuesday. Please see last Wednesday's slides before printing your final draft.

2. If you have a laptop, Tuesday is a good day to bring it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 13, 2014

Focus: How can we improve our poetry timed writings?

1. Warming up: Taking a moment to understand your overall grade for the first six weeks

2. Perusing my feedback on your outlines and making a few revisions here and there

3. Composing one good body paragraph, chock full of close readings and sprinkled lightly with literary language (now might be the time to crack open those giant packets that you love so much)

Click here for Ms. Leclaire's sample thesis and body paragraphs.

4. Celebrating Ian!

From Mr. Smith: Ian is my favorite Stockdill in his entire AP Physics class!  

From Coach Lutz: Ian is incredibly dedicated to his team and his sport of cross country. When he could run he was one of our best; a product of his spirit and hard work. When he was injured he enthusiastically supported his team. He is the kind of guy you want to run with as a teammate and as a friend.

Hope that works! There are so many great qualities to this young man.

From Mrs. Greenless: Ian is a quiet leader, he is one who shows strength and greatness through example.  His presence is calming and his demeanor is kind and his whit is quick!

From Ian's blog: As the final chapter spirals into chaos, all of the small tidbits of the narrators life that he has accumulated through fate, are burned in a symbolic destroying of his past and reflection on some of his ignorance. The sambo doll, his notes and college letter, were all destroyed in the same instant even though it had taken him years to fill his briefcase through random coincidences. Things the narrator did not think much of at the time, other than being out of place or extraordinary, have now come to mark important events and times in his life. Ellison makes an important point about how fate is something that cannot be sensed or seen in the present or the future, but is apparent in retrospect, as life falls into place and makes sense when it never made sense along the way.

From his mom and dad"Ian always does things with passion and commitment, whether that is long distance running, rock climbing or hiking with his sippy cup."

1. Finish Beloved for our final Socratic seminar tomorrow; for your reading ticket, compose a metacognitive writing on the very last chapter (the final two pages of the book).

2. Critical review final drafts due Tuesday, February 18.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

We're A.P. Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 12, 2014

Focus: What kind of work do our critical review essays need?

Please remember to attend the conference you signed up for and to bring two timed writings.

1. Warming up: Addressing your strengths and weakness as a critical reviewer

2. Peer or self editing the critical review: Click HERE for the slides of enlightenment!

3. Trying out SAS Writing Reviser (also linked at the top of our class website)

1. Finish Beloved for Friday; for your reading ticket, please compose a metacognitive writing on the last chapter (the final two pages of the book).

2. Critical review essay due Tuesday, but I will grade them in the order they come in.  In other words, if you turn it in early, I will grade it and return it early.

3. No poetry response this week.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 11, 2014

Focus: How can we improve our poetry timed writings?

1. Warming up: Using your ears to unravel a poem's tone (and exploring the secret packets)

Euphony ("Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
              Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep, 
              Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
              Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers")

Cacophony (“With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,/ Agape they heard me call.”)

Assonance ("dreams" and "leaves")

2. Reading and discussing "The Century Quilt" with a little attention to new poetic language

3. Performing a piece of a timed writing in pairs:  Thesis and outline only

Thesis: Remember to establish the heart of your essay here.  What complex meanings does the speaker attribute to the Century Quilt?

I. Topic sentence #1:

A. Example #1:

B. Example #2:

(C. Example #3:)

II. Topic sentence #2:

A. Example #1:

B. Example #2:

(C. Example #3:)

(III. Topic sentence #3:)

A. Example #1:

B. Example #2:

(C. Example #3:)

1. Finish reading Beloved for Friday. For your reading ticket, please perform a metacognitive on the very last chapter (the final two pages).

2. Bring a draft of your critical review to class on Wednesday.

Friday, February 7, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 10, 2014

Focus: How does the structure of Beloved contribute to its meaning?

Please turn in your poetry responses and sign up for a conference.

1. Warming up: "Dramatic" reading of the first few pages of Part 3 together

2. Sculpting living pictures/tableaus (6 groups):

•Plotwise, what happened in your part?
•What are this part’s most important pages, images, symbols, shifts, structures, etc.?
•Break your part into three elements. For example, you could look at three different stages of a character or symbol.  Or you could look at three different images that work together somehow.
•For each element, create a tableau—a frozen picture (think symbolically here) and a piece of text to be read aloud by someone in your group.

3. Considering the role of magical realism in Beloved (if time allows)

1. Bring your critical review essay draft to class on Wednesday. You can print it out, but you don't have to; a Google doc in progress will suffice.

2. Finish Beloved by Friday for our final discussion!  For your final reading ticket, please perform a metacognitive writing on the the final two pages of the book (which, by the way, are perhaps my two favorite pages of writing from any book).

3. No poetry response this week.

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 7, 2014

Focus: Seriously, who/what is Beloved?

Please sign up for a February or March conference.  Bring at least two timed writings with you to the conference, as well as anything else you'd like to discuss.

1. Warming up: Trying out a few alternative interpretations of Beloved

a. Beloved is the ghost of Sethe's murdered child.

b. Beloved is an actual girl, not a ghost; until her escape, she was long abused by white men.  Sethe welcomes her as own her child to ease her own guilt and to fill the hole left behind by the true Beloved.

c. Beloved is a symbol of any and every escaped slave.

d. Beloved is a vampire.

(If you recall, Foster states that vampires are about "selfishness, exploitation, a refusal to respect the autonomy of other people...the figure of the cannibal, the vampire, the succubus, the spook announces itself again and again where someone grows in strength by weakening someone else" [16, 21]).

2. Discussing the narrative voices of Part 2, Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5 in smallish groups

3. Wrapping up as a large class

1. Complete your next poetry for Monday; however, you will get a respite next week from poetry response since you're working on your critical reviews.

2. Bring a draft of your critical review essay to class next Wednesday for editing.

3. Read through the ending of Part 2 for Monday.  Create a manly, manly reading ticket by analyzing one or more of the men in Beloved (they deserve some attention): Mr. Garner, Paul D, Halle, Sixo, or any of the other Sweet Home men.  The format can be whatever you prefer...perhaps a found poem? A metacognitive of a certain passage? A straightforward character analysis? A creative narrative from that character's perspective?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 6, 2014

Focus: What are some concrete ways in which we can improve our AP writing and reading skills?

1. Celebrating the wonder that is Emily...

From Mrs. Grantham: Emily is quietly determined, accepting of others, and willing to step up and do whatever needs to get done.

From Mr. Ahern: Emily is one of my favorite students.  She likes to give off this persona of going with the flow, but in her performances I can see the creativity and humor that she always puts into her work.  She is hard-working and dependable.  I already miss having her in class.

From Mrs. Durow: Emily has such a laid back, yet positive vibe. She is very bright and I have always enjoyed having her as a student. I also love the the Birkenstocks!

From Mrs. Little Emily has impressed 
me as being very thoughtful,intelligent and conscientious. She is also very
willing to participate in class room questions as they arise.

From her mama: Emily is an amazing person. She is kind and caring and always tries to think the best of people. She has a sense of humor even in the worst of times. She may be quiet at times, but get her with her friends and she is quite chatty. She is a very deep thinker.

2. Warming up: Thinking about how to move up to the next level in your timed writings (click HERE for the presentation)

a. Complicating your language for discussing tone
b. Paraphrasing vs. analyzing
c. Using literary language

3. Returning your timed writings on Dickinson and Frost

4. Getting nice and concrete with Beloved: Nailing down a specific timeline

1. Finish reading through Chapter 5 for tomorrow in Beloved (you have the second half of Chapter 4 and all of Chapter 5); create five good questions using your Socratic stems for tomorrow.

2. The critical review essay is now due Feb 18. However, I will grade them and give them back based on the order in which you submit them, so if you finish early, turn it in early.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 5, 2014

Focus: What are the women of 124 claiming ownership of?

1. Enjoying a quick creative freewriting: I am (your name) and ______________ is mine.

2. Listening to Toni Morrison read us chapters two through five

  • Dedicate a page to each of the following characters: Sethe, Denver, and Beloved.
  • As you listen, either jot down or sketch the specific things that "belong" to each character. 
  • Try to organize your phrases or drawings in a way brings meaning to the page.  For example, you could divide your paper into two parts: One for the things that they proudly own, and one for the things they own but wish they could rid themselves of. Or perhaps you could organize by color, or by body parts, or anything else that makes sense to you.
3. Debriefing what we heard and saw

1. Critical review critical review critical review. Essay is due in a week and a half. Yikes!

2. Also, compose five Socratic stems on these chapters (2 through 5) for Friday's discussion.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 4, 2014

Focus: What does it mean to lose something, and what it does it mean to reclaim it?

1. Using your found poetry to consider today's focus question (feel free to use the questions below for help):
  • In Beloved, what is lost?
  • What do the characters want to lose?
  • What do they wish to reclaim?
  • What is found?
  • What has the potential to be found?

2. Viewing the Baby Suggs scene: What is being reclaimed, and how?

3. Discussing the end of Part 1 and the beginning of Part 2 of Beloved via Socratic seminar

1. Read chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5 of Part 2 (don't worry--they're short) for Friday. We'll keep the reading ticket short and sweet this week; just use any five of the Socratic stems I gave out last week (they're also linked to the class website) to form five good Socratic questions.  You can just write them in your Beloved book or your composition notebook.

P.S. We're actually listening to Morrison read these chapters tomorrow in class, so hopefully that will help you manage your workload and your sanity this week.

2. Keep pushing through that critical review book.

Monday, February 3, 2014

We're AP Lit Nerds and Loving It: February 3, 2014

Focus: What does it mean to lose something, and what it does it mean to reclaim it?

Please turn in your poetry responses.

1. Trying out a little found poetry with some help from Elizabeth Bishop and Billy Collins

2. Using fragments from Beloved to create a poem and to tell a story

3. Perusing our gallery of found poems:

  • In Beloved, what is lost?
  • What do the characters want to lose?
  • What do they wish to reclaim?
  • What is found?
  • What has the potential to be found?

3. Viewing the Baby Suggs scene: What is being reclaimed, and how?

1. For tomorrow, please read through Chapter 1 of Part 2 in Beloved. As you read, keep adding to your list of words and phrases. Google share this document with me at

2. Keep reading your critical review book