Wednesday, September 23, 2009


The national data for AP 2009 have come in!  AP English Literature posted an overall pass rate of 58.7%...which means our pass rate of 86% totally kicked ASS!!


Monday, August 31, 2009


If WHS were Hogwarts, you would've earned an E for Exceeds Expectations.

Data breakdown:

5s=7/9% (Most of these students may have earned a 5 without the class, so I can't take too much credit for their success.)

4s=28/36% (This is the group I am most proud of, as most of these students started the year at a 3 or lower, so I know the class actually improved their scores.)

3s=32/41% (Again, really pronounced improvement in this group.)

2s=11/14% (Much smaller group than I anticipated, which I know is small comfort for the students who fall into it, but as a measure of class success, it's still good news.)

No 1s.

All told: 67 students--or 86% out of 78--passed the AP English Literature Exam in 2009. Congratulations, I am so totally, exceeding proud of all of you. Thank you for making my job worth doing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The penultimate post

I know I will post at least once more when I get your scores back in September, but if you want, you can comment on this post in July when you get your AP scores (I'm assuming at least the ones who pass will be comfortable with that, but you're all welcome to email me about it, too). I really do want to know how you did.

Final grades are posted in the door window. I'm glad to say everyone passed with a C, at green slips, yay!

All unrecovered work is sitting in a box outside my classroom door. You can pick it up at your leisure through 2pm tomorrow. After that, it goes in the recycling bin.

Some last words directed especially at my CW/AP students:


I'm sure you noticed that there were some common themes in the author presentations: suicide, mental illness, addiction, suffering.

For the ten of you, who are, presumably, most interested in pursuing a life of letters, I would like to point out that while we all suffer through life, to some degree, and this suffering may be valuable in deepening our humanity and our ability to connect with others, there is also tremendous power in just being an observer of suffering, of bearing witness to other people's pain, and perhaps alleviating it by giving them a voice. Don't feel that you have experience everything firsthand in order to write about it...just paying attention to other people, listening and remembering, can be enough.

I will see you all on Friday.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It's K-12 week coming up.

There are TWO days next week that you CANNOT miss. Wednesday is Kindergarten can't be made up, so you must be here. Friday is the Poetry Reading that counts as your final...again, it CANNOT be made up, you MUST be in class. Spread the word.

Crap! Forgot to pass out the worksheet that's due on Monday. Please don't let me forget tomorrow. And if you're absent, make sure to get one when you get back. I'd post it, but it's not a digital file.

Finally, check THIS out! 3D visualization of people's opinions on social issues. See where you stand.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Presentations Mid-point Advice

As I'm sure you have observed, there are some clear distinctions between excellent, decent and mediocre presentations. Most notable is the tendency of some presenters to READ OFF OF THE SLIDE!!!

Don't we all hate that?

Can we try not to do that anymore?

An audience will forgive many other common foibles such as a presenter inserting too many ums in their narration, accidentally skipping ahead two slides and then doubling back, even typos peppered throughout the slides, but boring them by saying the exact words that they can read for themselves is the number one way you will lose their attention.

Don't do it.

Also, can we try to be a bit more consistent in the time notations? Sometimes the presentation skips around in time, or certain events aren't labeled with years or references to other years and it gets really confusing. Think of the basic structure of the presentation as a TIMELINE...with events in the author's life on one side, and the works the author produced on the other, and YOUR ANALYSIS of how the two sides are connected as the key narration.

Finally, make sure you really understand all the information you present so you can answer any clarifying questions. Don't quote another author's comments ABOUT your author, for example, without knowing something about that other author.

Good luck to those whose presentations are still to come...I expect to see higher caliber work after these suggestions are sent out (see, there ARE advantages to being an early presenter).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tuesday Graders

If you're DEFINITELY going to be in class on Tuesday, May 26, please let me know either via email (terihu[at] OR by leaving a comment on this post. I will select graders for Tuesday's presentations based on this list, so it's vitally important that you actually show up if you say you will. Don't be a flake!

Remember, the six presenters on Tuesday deserve your support. I am quite bummed to be missing this of all days, a few of the presentations I was really looking forward to seeing are booked for this day. Believe me, if I had control over this medical situation, I would not have booked a procedure for the 26th...this is why I'm not happy with Kaiser. At all.

Fortunately, the sub will be Mr. Ingebretson, whom you had in January, and who is sane and intelligent. I will leave him clear instructions as to what to look for in the presentations so I can base grades on more than just the slideshow.

All right, have a good LONG weekend everyone. Rest up. There may only be 17 school days left, but they are 17 tremendously fraught days.

UPDATE: These are the folks I've actually heard from, assigned to grade presentations as follows...

Graders for SAI's presentation:
Samuel Lai

Graders for MIKA's presentation
Amy Dunford

I only have five names for 3rd, so just switch Katie and Sarah as graders for each other's presentation.
Sarah Ewing

I only heard from two people in 2nd, besides the presenters, but I'm sure more people will show. You're going to have to figure it out.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Extra Credit

So...only 15 people did the extra credit? Lame.

You have until Monday. After that, I open it up to the folks who didn't get to pick a slip.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

God, I'm SO glad this is over!

Well, I didn't get to see 2nd and 3rd, but the atmosphere in 6th was chipper enough to make me think y'all did all right. Good job, everyone, I'm glad to hear that the overwhelming majority felt the MC was "easy," compared to our practice tests...let's see how that plays out in July.

Here's some info about the prose text:

As for the poetry passage, if you watched The Tudors on Showtime, you'd have some clue as to what that's about, I suppose. Did you cover that stuff in World History, or AP Euro?

At the very least, you've had three doses of Shakespeare, that ought to provide some inoculation.

Finally...good news on the admin/curricular front: Bastard Out of Carolina has been approved by the textbook committee. I think I will use it instead of Mulvaneys next year. I love the book, but it's just too damned LONG.

And yes, I'm very proud of you guys. I think you did quite well this year, all in all, and I anticipate a kickass pass rate. Please let me know when you get your test's one of the high points of my summer.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Less than 24 hours to SHOWTIME!

First of all, IF I bake cupcakes tonight, it'll be one of the following:

Red Velvet
Cookies and Cream

If you have a preference, let me know before 6pm, I'll try to accommodate the best I can.

On the eve of the big test day, here are some helpful hints...I know, it's nothing you didn't already know, but I figured I'd put it in writing.

1. Review the Literary Terms from the beginning of the year (scroll back to the post from September 28, 2008). I know it looks like a lot but if you look it over you'll see that you already know most of it. The main reason I still want you to know this isn't because I think they're necessarily going to ask you what a "chiasmus" is. Knowing it will come in handy more as a way to eliminate the WRONG answer, it'll give you confidence to know it IS wrong and choose the right answer with assurance.

Ultimately, if these (and the poetic meters) are the only things you don't know, you'll probably be fine, they only take up a few questions on the multiple choice section. The thing is, running across a cluster of questions you're completely lost about can shake your confidence and throw you off for the rest of the test even if you DO know all the other questions.

Know yourself and how you respond in a test situation.

2. Review the online practice tests at I've been saying this all year, and I get the feeling almost no one has taken this advice seriously. You should. It's a FREE resource that gives you the best possible insight on what to expect.

They even have sample student essays for the latest tests...that can be very helpful in determining how to raise YOUR essays to the next level.

3. Review all EIGHT of the practice tests you've taken this year. Compare how you've done, and try to figure out WHY you did better or worse on each one. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and USE this information on the real thing.

4. Review your cram sheet!!

Make sure you know the author...maybe the year published? Refresh your memory of the plot, the character's NAMES, setting, etc...don't get your information mixed up on the test, it'll make you look careless.

Don't even TRY to write an essay on a book you haven't read. It'll show. And don't get too hung up on the suggested list, use the book that you're most familiar with, that is also relevant to the topic. The more you liked a book, the more likely you'll be able to write well about it.

However, make sure it's a LITERARY WORK...don't take unnecessary risks if you're not sure, or if you're not totally comfortable writing coherently and intelligently about the piece.

5. Get a good night's sleep. Don't get all nervous and strung out and get insomnia. It's an 8am test, you need to be rested.

6. Have a solid, healthy breakfast...make sure you have protein, not just carbs, and watch the sugar. If you normally drink coffee, don't skip it...if you don't, this is not the time to start. Be hydrated.

Most importantly, remember that mental preparation is the bulk of the challenge. If you're well prepared, you know it, and everyone who followed the curriculum this year SHOULD be well prepared. Don't get caught up in second-guessing yourself and lose that confidence.

I genuinely believe that this is the most useful AP exam, in terms of getting you out of an often tedious college requirement. Everyone has to take freshman comp. A pass on this exam will get you out of that class, and that means you get to tackle more interesting challenges sooner.

And life is all about the challenges.

Good luck.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

AP Government

Yes, I know the test is tomorrow, so a bunch of you won't be in 2nd/3rd. Don't worry about the vocab test, you can take it during 6th if your 6th period teacher is amenable, or make it up later in the week. But I expect all the 6th period folks to be there unless they have swine flu.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

To a new generation of Bears...'s time to honor the past.

Twenty years ago today, I received my admission letter to Berkeley (and met my turned out to be a pretty pivotal day, huh?). I know a lot of you are about to send off your Statements of Intent to I thought I'd fill you in on some Cal history that may not show up in books.

This is an article about the most amazing professor I had at Cal, Alan Dundes. He taught for decades, I can't even imagine the thousands of students he influenced throughout his years at Cal. I took four classes with him, and he came very close to convincing me to give up my adolescent dream of becoming a high school English teacher to pursue a Ph.D in Folklore (the main reason I didn't was that the four Folklore programs in the US were at Bloomington, Texas, UCLA and Penn...none were places I wanted to live for the seven years it takes to earn a Ph.D).

Part of the reason I am so interested in taboo, and examining the twisted, humorous underpinnings of literature is because of Dundes' influence. So, when we have our borderline obscene discussions in class, you know who to thank...or blame.

Anyhow, I'd always hoped that some of my high school students would go to Cal and take classes with Dundes, but by the time I had kids who were old enough (and Berkeleyish enough) to go there, he was dead. My other favorite professor, Andrew Griffin, just died in March, of Alzheimers. The Cal you're about to enter is a very different place than the one I experienced. That's got its good side and bad side, I guess. It's like that line from Avenue Q:

If I were to go back to college, think what a loser I'd be,
I'd walk through the quad and think "Oh my god, those kids are so much younger than me."

Next year, when you come back to visit Wash at breaks, you'll see firsthand how that feels.

As you guys phase out of high school and into this next, dynamic period of your lives, please take some time to think back--all the way to pre-school and kindergarten--and honor the teachers, aides and other school-related folks who helped you get to this stage. They don't get enough credit for the foundations they built.

Plus, you're going to need to pull up those memories for your K-12 project in June.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Background info on M. Butterfly

An excerpt from the book that chronicles the true story of Shi Pei-Pu and Bernard Boursicot. If you're puzzled as to how a guy can be fooled into thinking his "mistress" is a woman for 20 years when he's really a man (and a biologically normal one, at that), this is the closest you're going to get to an explanation.

Here's a photo of Shi as a young man in full opera regalia, and one from his French years. And a French newspaper with him and Bouriscot together.

By the way, the 2009 Pulitzers were announced today. Check out the list of past many are in the curriculum?

In addition to DHH winning a Tony for Best Play, B.D. Wong won for Best Featured Actor, and John Dexter won for Best Direction...his other Tony was for the 1975 production of Equus (better known as the play that has Harry Potter naked).

And a warning: there will be full frontal male nudity at the climax of the play. If you don't want to see it, you'll get plenty of warning before he strips down all the way...cover up your eyes, leave the room, do whatever you need to do. Just don't freak out afterward because you saw some actor's junk.

And just for a point of reference with regards to the economy, the current value of 100 yen is just over a dollar, exactly $1.01455.

Monday, April 06, 2009

List of all WHS texts

To assist your memory, here are all the books we teach at WHS from 9th-11th grades plus the AP texts. Cram sheet due on Thursday! 50 points! NOT extra credit!

(For those who asked: the BOLDED titles are not by white males, the italicized titles are by living writers.)

Hiroshima by John Hersey

The Miracle Worker by William Gibson

The Odyssey by Homer

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

Our Town by Thornton Wilder

Maus I by Art Spiegelman

Maus II by Art Spiegelman

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Albee Plays by Edward Albee

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Black Boy by Richard Wright

The Adventures of Huck Finn by Mark Twain

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson


1984 by George Orwell (novel)

Beloved by Toni Morrison (novel)

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (novel)

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (novel)

Hamlet by William Shakespeare (drama)

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (drama)

M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang (drama)

Mourning Becomes Electra by Eugene O'Neill (drama)

The Once and Future King by T. H. White (novel)

The Oresteia by Aeschylus (drama)

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (drama)

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (novel)

Six Degrees of Separation by John Guare (drama)

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (novel)

Wit by Margaret Edson (drama)

Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez (drama)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Isn't it ex-cite-ing to be almost done with your big research paper?

Yeah, a corny pun, sorry.

Here are some links to help you navigate the complexities of citing sources in your paper. Remember that it is preferable to overcite, or even cite loosely, than to create the impression that you are taking credit for someone else's idea. We're cracking down on this, don't be caught up in the dragnet.

Also, remember that for this paper, I will accept the simpler parenthetical citation format of referring to a numbered list on your works cited page.

Parenthetical Citations

Quotation Marks

General MLA Citation Guidelines

Final paper due on Thursday. Remember, NO LATE WORK ACCEPTED!! Good luck!

Friday, March 27, 2009

About Thurber

Just a preview of the stories for next week.

Click on the title link for bio.

Here's the text for Thurber's short story, "The Catbird Seat," that we mentioned in class.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reality Check

First, the good news. The ten students listed below (in alphabetical order), are the ten top ranked students (according to their average multiple choice test scores) so far this year. Congratulations!


Granted, the multiple choice is only 45% of your overall score, but it's the most objective assessment of a student's general preparedness for the exam. I believe a strong performance on the multiple choice is helpful not only in getting a better score, but in psyching you up for the three essays to follow.

Think about it: you get the MC first, if you do well, you feel good going into the essay portion and that confidence translates into a more fluid, unencumbered thought-process as you write your essays. Whereas if you bomb the MC, you freak out and are distracted during the essay portion. Don't count on essays to pull you through if you're not doing well on the MC, it's not that simple.

On the other end of the spectrum, these are the SID#s of the 21 students still enrolled in AP English whose average MC scores are at 60% and below (in numeric order). If your SID# is listed below, I hope you're scoring consistently at 7 and above on the essays. You might scrape a pass if your essays are exceptionally strong and you won't be shaken up by a difficult MC exam, but that is a long shot. You have ONE more multiple choice exam this Friday to prove that you have what it takes to pass this thing...the question is, are you going to step up or flop out?

There's still time to cram in some heavy duty test prep on your own...but not much, we're down to 43 days (not SCHOOL days, just DAYS) before the big exam. If you buckle down NOW, you might still pull it off. Get a prep book, systematically work your way through it, reviewing your weak points, drill yourself on them until you improve. You can do it if you want much do you WANT to?


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Very childish, I know...

But it's SO much fun!

See how many different homocidal reactions you can trigger in the cute little penguin.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Listen to this

T.S. Eliot reads his masterpiece, The Waste Land.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Victorians aren't the only ones with dirty little secrets

Considering how intense and sometimes heated the discussion got last week, I thought some of you might be interested in these articles:

NPR on Chris Browne/Rihanna incident and teens.

More on teen domestic violence (is it still "domestic" if they don't live together?).

Story from Chicago Tribune.

My point in raising these issues--as it has been all year--is that as different as things may appear on the surface, without a deeper understanding of the social and personal forces behind "culture," nothing ever really changes.

Change, true change, requires much more than better nutrition, equal education or high tech gadgets. It requires that people see clearly the limits of their own environments, and then apply their energies to moving those limits--those heavy, immovable boundaries--for the next generation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Live theater in Fremont?

Thanks to Kathleen for the heads-up on Broadway West's production of The Importance of Being Earnest. No weekday matinee, so no field trip possible, but it runs through Spring Break, so you have plenty of time. Support the arts in Fremont!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Shakespeare's Sister

The essay, by Virginia Woolf, may be found on pages 352-359 of the AP Reader. There are other versions floating around online, as well as tons of commentary on it (there is a band by this name, as well as a Smith's song of this title). The concept really grabs the imagination, doesn't it?

Please print out your own copy and take margin notes on it by the day it is due for discussion, next WEDNESDAY 3/11/09. I am getting very fed up with the folks who do not do the readings ON TIME, it seriously undermines effective discussion, and I will be implementing enforcement techniques.

This is an eight-page essay. If you can't read all of it by next Wednesday, you're really not trying.

Monday, March 02, 2009

AP Exam Sign-up, Part 2

All right, for those of you who haven't gotten the green bulletin sheet, a quick summary:

The window for sign-ups is open NOW through March 15 (which is a Sunday, so my guess is they'll take it through Monday, the 16th.)

It costs $88, you can put down a $28 deposit or pay in full. If you do the deposit plan, the balance is due 4/8/09.

See Mrs. Jung.

Someone asked how to get the 100 points for taking the test. All you have to do is sign up and pay with Mrs. Jung. I will get the list of people who are signed up for AP English from her after 4/8 and enter it into the gradebook. Depending on when she has it ready, it may go onto 3rd or 4th quarter grades. The 3rd quarter ends on 4/9, grades due 4/28 (yes, it's an unusually large window because of Spring Break).

If you don't sign up for the AP English test, you won't get to take it because they order an exact number of tests from the College Board. Don't procrastinate, don't delay. Get it DONE.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Good question

Robert asked a question on Tuesday that I feel deserved a more thorough answer. See link below:

Olde English Pronunciation

Wikipedia adds (with regards to the specific example of "knight"):

Generally, all letters in Middle English words were pronounced. (Silent letters in Modern English come from pronunciation shifts, which can no longer be reflected by the written form because of fixed spelling constraints imposed by the invention of dictionaries and printing.) Therefore 'knight' was pronounced /ˈknɪçt/ (with a pronounced K and a 'gh' as the 'ch' in German 'Knecht'), not /ˈnaɪt/ as in Modern English.

Also, on the subject of spelling constraints, take a look at some of the European language academies that regulate their languages:

Academie Francais
Swedish Academy
Real Academia Espanola

And look at the list of global language regulators...which one stands out as having "no regulator?"

Wikipedia list

Imagine how different (and rigid and less fun) English would be if we had one of these governing bodies telling us exactly how to use our words. Yay for the hodge podge mess of a language that is our mother tongue!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ooooh, pretty colors!

Next week we tackle one of the most bizarre and fascinating English poets, ever.  Not only was he a bold and unique person, William Blake's work broke new ground and has never been replicated.  I can't really think of a modern poet/artist that combined words and images in such a mind-blowing way like Blake did.

His poems tend to be reprinted textually, which really misses the point.  Blake's illuminated works are meant to be seen as a complete piece of art, not as black letters on a white page.

To better understand the power of Blake's poetry, you need to go to this site on William Blake and scroll down to see The Songs of Innocence and Experience in full color (it wouldn't hurt if you read the introduction and learned something about Blake while you're at it).  

Friday, February 13, 2009


I know it's a new semester, a new grading period, and with a fresh start, many people feel that it's OK to slack off a bit since there's still plenty of time to pull a low grade up. So many folks started off the year with C's and D's but went up to A's and B's, so maybe they think they can do that again in the spring.

Here's the thing...there are WAY fewer practice tests in the second semester. You're in the middle of the SIXTH cycle out of EIGHT. That means the opportunity to raise your grade in the second semester is very limited.

Other than the AP Exam itself, for which I give you an absurdly easy 100 points just to take it, there is NO built-in point padding for the spring semester. You NEED to step up on the essays, especially if you're still scoring below the 60% mark on the multiple choice. If you're still falling below 50% on the MC, you need to be prepping yourself on your own...the practice tests in class aren't going to be enough.

These last two rounds of essays have been noticeably weaker than what I saw in January...most people aren't even trying to hit page three.

And next week is another open-ended. If you haven't made a cram sheet yet, you should!

Pick it up, folks!

Friday, February 06, 2009

AP Exam Sign-up

It's February, and nearly time to sign-up for the exams in May. If you've never taken an AP exam before, you need to plan for it EARLY rather than last minute. The exams need to be ordered from the College Board, so if you wait til the last minute, you simply cannot take the test.

First, it will cost somewhere around $90. I believe it was $88 last year, but I can't be 100% sure. Be prepared, you may put down a deposit, or pay in full. If your parents' income levels qualify, you may be able to apply for a fee waiver. Ask Mrs. Jung (the accounts clerk in the counseling office).

Secondly, the deadline for signing up will be in mid-March. Listen to the bulletin for more information. DON'T MISS THE DEADLINE!!!

Third...if you haven't already, MAKE YOUR CRAM SHEET! That's the list of ALL the books you've read that may be useful on the open-ended essay test. Review the characters, settings, and basic plot points, so you don't make the embarrassing mistakes that I saw on this last batch of open-ended essays. It's TOM Buchanan, not Dave, not John (not Dick or Harry, either). Romeo and Juliet lived in Verona, not Venice. At no point in the Importance of Being Earnest did Gwendolyn actually get a tattoo...that was added in just the film, NEVER in the original text. Those kinds of errors just make you look careless and silly. And don't be lazy...just because you can't "study" for this exam doesn't mean you can't PREPARE.

Those of you who are still unable to reach a THIRD page on the essay tests need to step it up. Very rarely will a two-pager do all the things an AP essay needs to do, analyze, articulate, demonstrate understanding and control. Push yourselves to get MORE out of your brain and onto the page.

We only have TWO (and a half) sets of tests before the big day. If you're not showing any improvement, in any section of the practice tests, you need to seriously ask yourself why...Why aren't you improving? Why are you taking the test? Why are you really in the class?

Good luck.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Dropping scores

I've finished grading everything that's going into the first semester for AP. If you have access to iParent, you can check your final grade. Each period has a slightly different point total due to curving: 2nd period=1410; 3rd=1480; 6th=1469.

Now, if you have an A--that's anything above 89.5%--don't bother asking me to throw out your lowest test. I won't bother. You have a frickin' A! Pluses and minuses don't show up on your transcript, aren't factored into your GPA, so don't waste my time bugging me to boost your 93% to a 96%. That will just annoy me. You know I'm not fond of grade grubbers.

If your grade falls in the lower ranges of each letter grade, dropping your lowest grade may not change anything. If you have an 82%, for example, dropping a 50 point vocab test that you bombed is NOT going to bump you up 8% into A range. In these cases, don't waste my time asking to drop your lowest grade just so you go from an 82% to an 85%. That will annoy me, too.

This is not a good time of year to annoy me. Winter makes me cranky enough as it is, slapping grading deadlines on top of that can trigger my bite-your-head-off response. Grrr.

The main folks who should be looking carefully at their test scores are those who are close enough to the next grade range to benefit. If this is you, turn in a piece of paper with the test you want dropped CLEARLY WRITTEN on it, e.g., "Practice Essay 2.A," "Vocab 51-100," "Multiple Choice 6." Be careful, I am not going to check that this IS your lowest score, so if you give me the wrong test name, you may be hurting yourself.

Rough estimate of percentages: an essay test is piddly, worth about 1%, most people shouldn't even bother dropping one, it won't make enough of a difference to matter, unless you're within 1% of the next grade. Most of the multiple choice and vocab tests will be worth around 3%, take a good look at these and figure out what's in your best interest. The last vocab test was 100 points...if your grade is higher than your score on Vocab test 151-200, you should probably drop it.

OK...grades are going in tomorrow afternoon. I hope no one is surprised by what they have.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

iGrade limitations

I'm getting a bunch of semi-panicky emails about the "M" in your Portfolio Final Essay 2 grade. All that means is that the GRADE is missing, not that I'm missing your essay. In fact, if you have an "M," it just means I haven't graded it yet. It's the ZERO that should concern you...that means you didn't turn one in, and you should probably come see me about it asap, as it probably means you're at risk of not passing English, which means you're going to find yourself in night school during the Spring semester, making up English units. Bad sitch, come deal with it before it's too late.

Please Note: Guidelines and Sample Posted

To your left, you should see a list of useful links. There are two new ones: a Guideline/Timeline for the Research Paper and a Sample Essay by one of my best students from last year.

Please download and print a copy of the guidelines...I'm trying desperately to save paper.

You should also note that you're required to begin researching your author, as you're working on an annotated bibliography, due Monday 2/2/09. Most of you did this in 10th grade for your I-Search. If you didn't, you should ASK me how it's done, I will post an example in the classroom. It's not hard, but I WILL be very nitpicky about this one...most of the time, I'm not a stickler for MLA. On THIS project, I am.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Good job, everyone!

Wow, 75 out of 82 have posted their choices already, with 24 hours left to go. I'm impressed.

Here's a treat for you, Monty Python's Writer's Sketch...where Oscar Wilde and James Whistler gang up on George Bernard Shaw.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A perfect example

UPDATE: Sample removed post deadline.

Here is a sample essay from Mika that exemplifies what you should do for this assignment.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Early Deadline Reminder

Since we're not in school today (yay!), you need to EMAIL me your critical analysis essay by midnight tonight if you want the early deadline grade option.  I will have them back to you by 3pm on Tuesday, which gives you a couple of days to polish them up for the Thursday final deadline.  Remember, I don't accept late work on these essays, period.  You've had MONTHS to work on it, there are no excuses at this point.

We're covering Pygmalion tomorrow through Thursday. I know a lot of you have seen My Fair Lady, which is a musicalized version of the play, but since G.B. Shaw would've HATED it, I find it hard to stomach...even though I have to admit that it's visually lovely (not loverly...ew).  The songs, though, are so embarrassingly BAD, I can't watch them without feeling sorry for the actors.

Anyhow, to give you a sense of how Shaw himself wanted Pygmalion to be experienced, click below on the YouTube video of the 1938 film version, for which Shaw himself won an Oscar for the screenplay.  The entire film is available in 10 minute clips, if you want to view it on YouTube.  But don't skip the reading, as half the fun is in Shaw's stage directions...and weird spelling foibles.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dibs on writers

Update: Sorry for the confusion...I forgot to SAVE the new settings when I changed it. I have published all the comments that were backed up in the queue, they are in DESCENDING order. Since the comments are saved in the order sent, it doesn't change anything...if someone beat you to the punch, and you didn't have a back-up, you need to post again. They should post immediately now, though.  You have until 10pm tomorrow.  

Beginning at 5pm on Wednesday 1/21/09, through 10pm on Thursday 1/22/09, you need to choose an author for your 2nd semester research project by COMMENTING ON THIS POST.  In your comment, make sure to include your name, period, and the author you've selected.  This way, you can easily see who has already been taken and who has not by reading the previous comments.  If you are absolutely unable to comment during this window, you may ask a friend to do it for you, just so long as it's clear who is choosing which author.  Please do not comment on each other's comments in this just gets unwieldy.  Anyone who has NOT chosen an author by Monday 1/26/09 will be at a serious disadvantage for the Writing Workshop scheduled on that day.

(If you jump the gun and post before 5pm Wednesday, it won't count.  Everything's time and datestamped.  Fair is fair.)

Refer to the following list, taken from page 54 of the College Board's AP English Course Description.  If you choose one of these authors, or anyone on the syllabus, you don't need my approval. If you want someone not on the list, run it by me first.

W. H. Auden; Elizabeth Bishop; William Blake; Anne Bradstreet; Edward Kamau Brathwaite; Gwendolyn Brooks; Robert Browning; George Gordon, Lord Byron; Lorna Dee Cervantes; Geoffrey Chaucer; Lucille Clifton; Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Billy Collins; H. D. (Hilda Doolittle); Emily Dickinson; John Donne; Rita Dove; Paul Laurence Dunbar; T. S. Eliot; Robert Frost; Joy Harjo; Seamus Heaney; George Herbert; Garrett Hongo; Gerard Manley Hopkins; Langston Hughes; Ben Jonson; John Keats; Philip Larkin; Robert Lowell; Andrew Marvell; John Milton; Marianne Moore; Sylvia Plath; Edgar Allan Poe; Alexander Pope; Adrienne Rich; Anne Sexton; Percy Bysshe Shelley; Leslie Marmon Silko; Cathy Song; Wallace Stevens; Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Derek Walcott; Walt Whitman; Richard Wilbur; William Carlos Williams; William Wordsworth; William Butler Yeats; Aeschylus; Edward Albee; Amiri Baraka; Samuel Beckett; Anton Chekhov; Caryl Churchill; William Congreve; Athol Fugard; Lorraine Hansberry; Lillian Hellman; David Henry Hwang; Henrik Ibsen; Ben Jonson; David Mamet; Arthur Miller; Molière; Marsha Norman; Sean O’Casey; Eugene O’Neill; Suzan-Lori Parks; Harold Pinter; Luigi Pirandello; William Shakespeare; George Bernard Shaw; Sam Shepard; Sophocles; Tom Stoppard; Luis Valdez; Oscar Wilde; Tennessee Williams; August Wilson; Chinua Achebe; Sherman Alexie; Isabel Allende; Rudolfo Anaya; Margaret Atwood; Jane Austen; Saul Bellow; Charlotte Brontë; Emily Brontë; Raymond Carver; Willa Cather; Sandra Cisneros; John Cheever; Kate Chopin; Joseph Conrad; Edwidge Danticat; Daniel Defoe; Anita Desai; Charles Dickens; Fyodor Dostoevsky; George Eliot; Ralph Ellison; Louise Erdrich; William Faulkner; Henry Fielding; F. Scott Fitzgerald; E. M. Forster; Thomas Hardy; Nathaniel Hawthorne; Ernest Hemingway; Zora Neale Hurston; Kazuo Ishiguro; Henry James; Ha Jin; Edward P. Jones; James Joyce; Maxine Hong Kingston; Joy Kogawa; Jhumpa Lahiri; Margaret Laurence; D. H. Lawrence; Chang-rae Lee; Bernard Malamud; Gabriel García Márquez; Cormac McCarthy; Ian McEwan; Herman Melville; Toni Morrison; Bharati Mukherjee; Vladimir Nabokov; Flannery O’Connor; Orhan Pamuk; Katherine Anne Porter; Marilynne Robinson; Jonathan Swift; Mark Twain; John Updike; Alice Walker; Evelyn Waugh; Eudora Welty; Edith Wharton; John Edgar Wideman; Virginia Woolf; Richard Wright; Joseph Addison; Gloria Anzaldúa; Matthew Arnold; James Baldwin; James Boswell; Jesús Colón; Joan Didion; Frederick Douglass; W. E. B. Du Bois; Ralph Waldo Emerson; William Hazlitt; bell hooks; Samuel Johnson; Charles Lamb; Thomas Macaulay; Mary McCarthy; John Stuart Mill; George Orwell; Michael Pollan; Richard Rodriguez; Edward Said; Lewis Thomas; Henry David Thoreau; E. B. White

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

About the vocab test next Monday...

We're going to try yet another format for this vocabulary test. Hopefully, it'll be doable but not too easy.

Each of you are already assigned to a writing group of either 6 or 7 people. In these groups, you will draw 10-15 vocabulary words out of a hat (it's not literally a hat, more like a jar, but you get the idea). Your group will need to write a story using these words...yes, one story per group, there's no way I could grade 82 of them.

It is still an open note test, as long as the notes are handwritten...everyone in the group should turn their notes in with their story so I can see who prepared in advance and who did not.

Obviously, you won't know which words you're going to get, so you should have a good grasp of EVERY word, just in case.

Finally, each person will need to EMAIL me with a paragraph describing how their group came up with the story, and which parts they personally contributed. This email is due by 10pm Monday night. Without this email, you will not get any credit for your participation in the group, even if everyone else says you did a great job.

Any questions? Ask them now. You have SIX days to prepare for this test.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Revision Reminder

Just a note to remind y'all that you have a typed revision of your critical analysis essay due tomorrow. Writing workshop, peer editing. Don't forget!