AP Lit: Open Ended Test Prep, Synthesis #3 Workshop & J. Alfred Prufock Sings

How much Prufrock, test prep and synthesis thinking can we pack into 80 minutes?  Let’s find out.

We’ll start with an open ended writing prompt. You will have fifteen minutes to write your thesis and first body paragraph for the following:

  • 1986 AP Question:  Some works of literature use the element of time in a distinct way.  The chronological sequence of events may be altered, or time may be suspended or accelerated.

Choose a novel, an epic, or a play of recognized literary merit and show how the author’s manipulation of time contributes to the effectiveness of the work as a whole.   Do not merely summarize the plot.

We will workshop the structure of the thesis statements and body paragraphs, looking especially at trying to develop variations on “Through use of  _[descriptor]___ __[literary device]__, _[descriptor]___ __[literary device]__. and _[descriptor]___ __[literary device]__ the author  [whose name goes here] argues [bigger thematic point to be made in the work].

We’ll look at synonyms and syntax to employ here.

Then we need to choose whether to look at “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” or our synthesis essays next.

The synthesis work will involve looking at our body paragraphs and seeking to embed text support vs quote bombing.

Looking at “J. Alfred” will practice a straight-forward close reading strategy.

Take Notes

Identify Patterns

Question Why

And if you can’t remember those steps, just do what I do: think about Ke$ha. (“TIQ Tok make it rock . . .” )


Synthesis #3 is due on Monday.  You will be turning it in and it will be assessed.

Creative Endeavor: Dramatic Monologue is due next Friday.  See the assignment description on Tuesday’s entry.

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: 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: Sandburg’s “Doors,” True Grit & Liberty Valance

To start class, will be doing an on-demand practice using Doors by Carl Sandburg : The Poetry Foundation.  Discuss Sandburg’s use of techniques such as repetition, structure, and diction to discuss the speaker’s attitude toward opportunity and/or time.

From there we will watch more of Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

And then we will close read an excerpt or two from Portis’ True Grit.

For Friday, continue to read True Grit (read as far or as little as you like — choose your own path here) and blog to the following prompt:  Ford, with Liberty Valance, and Portis, with True Grit, seem populated by rich supporting casts.  Make an argument that Mattie and Ransom are not the central protagonists, but rather supporting characters for another protagonist.  Defend your claim!