AP Lit: Breaking Hamlet, March Madness & Test Prepping

Hamlet concludes.  And now we must tear this ship apart until we find Shakespeare’s plans.

We will begin with a massive brainstorm of lines of significance from the play.  We will fill the thinking boards with Act, scene, line numbers and the first few words of each line  to help us keep track.  From there, we will distill them and put them into ….

WHAT?!  Brackets?

Yes.  We are going to have Hamlet Madness 2013 as we try to take the 16 most important lines of Hamlet and determine the single most important line, the one line that captures the spirit, essence, theme and tone of the entire play.

There can be only one.

(I’ve never done this using the online bracket tool I’ve chosen for this . . . so . . . it may be a little messy.)

Hamlet Madness 2013
This will be the first half of our work today.

The second half will be completing an on-demand practice. (And this one will be happening.  It will.)  It’s our first go of the “Open Response” question.

29. 1998 AP Question: In his essay “Walking,” Henry David Thoreau offers the following assessment of literature:

In literature it is only the wild that attracts us.

Dullness is but another name for tameness. It is the

uncivilized free and wild thinking in Hamlet and The Iliad,

in all scriptures and mythologies, not learned in schools,

that delights us.

From the works you have studied in school, choose a novel, play, or epic poem that you may initially have thought was conventional and tame but that you value for its “uncivilized free and wild thinking.”  Write an essay in which you explain what constitutes its “uncivilized free and wild thinking” and how that thinking is central to the value of the work as a whole.  Support your ideas with specific references to the work you choose.

Creative Endeavor:  Hamlet as Reality Series

So the argument has been made all throughout our work that Hamlet relates to today’s adolescent experience.   Would today’s audiences agree?

Conceptualize Hamlet as a reality series.  How would it be staged? Where would it take place?  What networks/YouTube channels would air it?  What might be the hook or gimmick to the series?  What series might it be based upon?  Would it be documentary style?  Would it be competitive in nature?

You may present your thinking in any way you wish.  The more developed and complete the vision, the more specific you are in your thinking, the stronger you make the argument, the more likely you are to meet — and then exceed — the standard.

AP Lit: More On Demand Test Prep, Talking Hamlet & Infographics

We will start Wednesday’s class with another On-Demand, this one, too, focused on poetry but with another challenge.  You will have thirty minutes from the start of class.

We will talk about the challenges this particular sort of prompt holds.  And then we will talk Hamlet, Act IV.  And what we think would be a good way to showcase our knowledge of the play.  (Or perhaps our creative assignments have accomplished that task?)

Next Friday, indie book projects/Playing for Change projects are due.

A working draft of Synthesis #3 is due in class, the 1st Tuesday of 4th Quarter.  We will be workshopping it.

Creative Assignment of the Week:

Create an infographic based on what you have read of Hamlet so far.  There are so very many possible solutions to this challenge.  Will you go with data?  Will you do a conceptual break down?  Will you look at a character?  Will you look at the play as a whole?

Want to see a bunch of infographic examples?  Look here.  Or take a look here.

Ready to start building?

10 Tools Aimed at Education That You Might Use to Make Your Infographic

20 Cool Tools You Might Use to Make Your Infographic

AP Lit: Pausing Hamlet for Some On Demand Work

Tuesday I neglected our poor blog here.  And that, my friends, must not be the case again. (Even though we know, in all likelihood, it will be.)

On Tuesday, we dove full on into visual thinking.

We looked at the visual note taking work of Austin Kleon.

You could also take a look here at Core 77, an amazing design site, and its visual note taking primer.

And watching any of the RSA Animate videos will be of benefit as well.

We broke into groups with each group taking a character from Hamlet and creating a visual note taking representation of that character.  We then put key elements of those note images up on the marker board and added the thematic ideas we’ve seen so far.

Then we discussed the “To Be or Not To Be Speech.”  I’m not going to even link it here.  Why?  Because it is EVERYWHERE. 

Thursday we focus on test prep and an on-demand prompt featuring Eavan Boland’s “It’s a Woman’s World”. We will write and then look at sample writing, figure out where our writings fall, and if time, discuss the poem itself and relation to Hamlet.

Creative Thinking Assignment for the Week:  Choose a scene or speech or character from Hamlet and create your own visual note taking representation.   Find something that you find interesting or that speaks to you in some way, that piques your intellectual curiosity.  Create it using any media/methods you like — it does not need to be digital.  Take a picture of and post your results on  your blog.

Reading Assignment:  For Monday, read Hamlet Act IV.  We will finish the play next week.  We need to figure out what we’d like to do for a culminating, summative assessment around it as well.  Thoughts?

Key Dates:

End of Quarter March 29

Indie Book Projects Due March 29 (Playing for Change needs song done by then, if not video.)

Revisions Due March 29 (Pinning Frankenstein, Satires)

Responses to Kenny’s questions about Life on Mars due April 1st. (Check your email.)






AP Lit: Hamlet Part the Second & True Grit On Demand

We’ll dive into a writing prompt by tackling another close reading of True Grit.  This time, however, you will have paper copy in front of you and you will be handwriting your plans and responses.  The timing will be twenty minutes and you will again be turning in your planning along with your essay.

The prompt: Discuss the techniques Portis employs in this passage to characterize the protagonist, Mattie Ross.  (This prompt is based on similar prompts that have actually appeared on the test.)

We will take no more than ten minutes to debrief on that particular writing experience and that passage.

Why?  Because we have a TON of Hamlet to unlock and discover.  Acts I and II both need our attention.

Hamlet delivers three powerful speeches here, two as soliloquies, one as something of a monologue directed at Rosencrantz & Guildenstern.

The first appears in Act I, scene 2. “Oh, that this, too, too sullied flesh would melt”

The second appears in Act II, scene 1. “I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth”

And the third appears in Act II, scene 2. “Oh what a rogue and peasant slave am I”

What do we learn of Hamlet over the course of these three speeches and how does Shakespeare construct such a figure?  Let us look carefully at Shakespeare’s technique here — there’s something about this play that feels strategic to me.  Perhaps it is the nature of the intrigue.  It feels as though maybe, just maybe, Shakespeare’s development of Hamlet’s character mirrors Hamlet’s development of his revenge plot.

For your blogging, you might consider a comparison of Hamlet portrayals.  Which do you think appeals to my sensibilities about the character?  (Ignore the nerd cred in having one of the Doctors play the tragic prince.  Branagh directed Thor and Ethan Hawke made one of the top 5 best sci-fi films ever with Gattaca.  This YouTube video over-runneth with nerdtasticness.)

For Friday, read only Act III, scene 1.  There is considerable amounts to digest in a relative short amount of text.  Perhaps the most famous speech in all of English-language drama appears here.

I know I mentioned Synthesis #3 would be assigned today.  I want to hold off a couple of more classes before assigning it formally as I want to continue emphasis with the on-demands and time to discuss Hamlet.  I know you are all heartbroken by this news.  (The final draft of Synthesis #3 will still be on the 4th quarter ranking period, so it won’t affect your grades.  You might have a little busier late March and early April.)

Most important date:  independent book projects are due March 28 or 29, whichever of the two we have class.

Next most important date: that is also the final day for revisions of Pinterest projects and .. yes.. satires that I know I’m behind in returning.

And doesn’t it feel we need something of a capstone on Hamlet?  Something more than just fodder for a synthesis essay?  Let’s talk about this as well.  Perhaps something akin to the Dallowinian Party?

AP Lit: Hamlet Begins

This week it really begins.  We start by examining Act I. 

But wait!  What is that?  That’s right!  AP Lit Test prep!

We begin with timed writing practice.  You will have 20 minutes to write to the following prompt:

In Polonious’ speech to Laertes in Act I, Scene 3, the father affords his son a great deal of advice.  Discuss how Shakespeare uses techniques such as diction, repetition and contrast to develop a theme around values, morals and/or ethics.

Before we begin writing, however —  What? We still haven’t gotten into Act I, yet?  Nope.  Not yet.  We will get there.

Before we begin writing, we will examine Jim Burke’s terrific strategies for timed writing on the AP Lit test.  This is not a prescription.  They are merely excellent suggestions.

I will be expecting you to post not only your writing, but documentation of your planning for this prompt.  (Hold up your paper to your iSight.  Make sure you flip the image before sending it to me.  Or use your phone.) Planning is far, FAR more important on a timed writing than really in any other situation where you have the luxury to explore and try things.

Okay, now then let’s get . . . wait . . . what?  Oh . . . right.  Watch this.

What works for you about this interpretation as a viewer?  What doesn’t?  What choices might you have made instead as the filmmaker  You might consider discussing it on your blog.

Okay, now we can actually start talking about Hamlet and all that transpires during Act I.  We essentially get a round up of the major players, get the back story, get the current status quo, and then the catalyst for everything that is to come in the following acts.

I would argue — and I have done so remarkably successfully in the past — that Hamlet is the ultimate adolescent, that he is proof positive that teenagers have been teenagers forever.  It is just the chronological context that changes.  With that in mind, here is your creative product prompt for your blog for this week.

CREATIVE ASSIGNMENT FOR WEEK of 3/4: Choose any form of social communication media that interests you (text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, something I haven’t considered?) and re-create a single scene from Acts I or II in that context.  There are lots of possible solutions here.  Challenge your confidence — rather than “Is this right?” being the first question, try “How can I get the events, emotions, and relationships  across in a way that makes it feel real?”

Homework for Monday night into Wednesday is to read Act II.  I know, I know, a WHOLE ACT?  It’s a rather short Act, as Acts go.  I could tell you a story about an Act that just went on and on for days.  But you don’t want to hear about that Act.   You are worried about this Act.  The sooner we read the text, the more time we have to discuss, explore and understand it.

Blog, start thinking about getting creative, make sure you still get three entries in.  Synthesis #3 will be assigned on Wednesday.  Get prepared for a big calendar update too so you can plan ahead.



AP Lit: Slush, Muck & Close Reading of True Grit

It was impossible to figure what today would bring.

It turned out to be a two-hour delay and a great conversation.

With only 47 minutes worth of class, we focused our efforts exclusively on a close reading of the final two pages of True Grit.  

Had I foresight, we could have captured that close reading on camera using the doc camera.  Instead I thought, “Oh, since the projector is in the forum right now, then there isn’t any point in loading up the doc cam.”  Remind me of this next time. That was not smart on my part.

We discussed the diction — simple words, but speaking volumes, the imagery of blood contrasted with snow, death with life, Mattie’s relationship with truth and honesty, her perceived hypocrisies, and a great deal many other things just in those two pages.

For the weekend, read all of Hamlet Act I.  Remember to get at least three blogs up and, if you have not, post your Frankenstein pins on Pinterest.

AP Lit: The End of Liberty Valance (Literally) & Changes to the Routine

A lot happened today in AP Lit . . . and a lot more was supposed to happen . . . .

We finished The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and spent most of class discussing Ford’s intentions, themes and techniques.

As a creative post-viewing and post-reading assignment, create two, minimalist promotional posters for True Grit and Liberty Valance.  To get inspired, take a look on Pinterest.   If you look at the examples I pinned on Flight 307’s Pinterest, then you can see what I’m talking about.  You don’t have to create your product digitally – feel free to use any medium to create your minimalist design.  Minimalism is all about capturing the essence of the subject using the most essential elements.

Hamlet has been officially assigned.  Read Act I scenes 1 & 2 for Thursday.  If we don’t have school, then finish Act I for Monday.

And now for some big changes that I am outlining here so you can keep referencing it.

Blogging: Blogging continues through the rest of the year.  You must blog three times per week, as per usual, to meet the standard.  There will no longer be specific prompts.

Creative Weekly Assignment: For homework each week, you can anticipate a creative assignment.  (The minimalist poster is a good example.)  You can complete this using whatever creative mediums you wish to use.  Remember, if you post it as a blog entry, it counts toward your blog count.

Reading: You will still have to read at night.  This has not been a problem for this class.  Congrats. That is awesome and not to be taken lightly.

Close Reading: We are going to use a ton of class time to continue honing our skills in this area.  Even more poetry is to come.  And we are going to look at some older poetry — really challenging on the language front.

On Demands:  On Demand writing will become a major focus of our work in class as we prepare for the test in early May.  We will be talking and working around structure, embedding text evidence, formulating ideas, and generally improving our abilities to write quality analysis in a short amount of time.

The scary part: these are going to start counting.  This isn’t a punishment. This is because I know it will heighten your resolve to improve.

Indie Books: You still have an independent book project due at the end of each quarter.  Remember, you can choose from National Book Award, Pulitzer, Booker and Printz award winners and finalists since 1980 in fiction, poetry and drama. That gives you a pile of options to consider.  (I think folks have gotten a little tunnel vision around the Pulitzer.)

Synthesis Essay: You have a third and final synthesis essay to write.  It will be assigned next week and the final draft will be going on the fourth quarter. (With room to revise.)  This is because you will have multiple grades racking up your third quarter and I want you to have time to properly revise your synthesis essay.

I think that’s it.  I thought there’d be more but . . . yeah . . . I think that captures it.