AP Lit: Who Is Watching?

We’ll start with an open response essay.  Thirty minutes.  Write the best essay you can produce.  Think about those three titles of which you’ve become an expert.Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 8.40.20 AM

From there, we’ll talk about those three titles and some quick verbal quizzing.

Then . . . Watchmen Chapters 2 and 3.  Let’s see where you take us . . . I’ve no end of ideas if we need a kickstart.

To help get a sense of Moore’s process of creating Watchmen, take a look at this excerpt from his script for Chapter 1.



AP Lit: Watchmen . . . Begins . . .

Today we start with some test prep around an Alexander Pope poem before we dig into the gloriousness of Watchmen.

And then we start taking inventory of everything happening in Watchmen in the pages of Chapter 1 alone.  Let’s pay particular attention to repeated imagery, patterns that seem to be evolving, and the questions they raise.  Remember TIQ?  That can be used here as well.

To better understand the voice behind Watchmen and some of its underlaying philosophies and such, take some time to check out Alan Moore on YouTube.  I’ve created a little variety pack for you here.


Read Watchmen chapters 2 & 3 for Monday. (That was voted upon in class.)

Be prepared with your three novels you know cold for the AP Lit test (Thursday, May 9th)

Start formulating ideas for a Watchmen installation on Thursday, May 30th


AP Lit: Vacation Lands & Ryder Is Out

Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 9.56.04 PM  I’m either home with a brutally sick kid or at a conference today.  One of the two is   happening.

Vacation lands today at 1:45 p.m.  So why not make the most of things now by doing some collaborative and independent work around poetry?

Go to this fantastic poetry resource from EDSITEment, the National Endowment for the Humanties education website.  Explore the poetry here in all of its forms, as well as the supporting documents.  A lot of great thinking to be done here.  Each and every one of these poems are of the caliber that can be found on the test.

Now, a meandering through is one thing; a focused investigation is quite another.

Here are several AP Lit terms with which you may want to familiarize yourselves.

I got these from this particular list. 






Heroic Couplet
















Look for examples of those as they may surface in the works you choose to read.

There are also several poetic forms worth considering.




Dramatic Monologue





Which of these surface amongst those 21?

Share your findings with one another.  As Dr. D. says, “None of us is smarter than all of us.”


Blog your findings, discoveries and understandings of today.

Take next week to regroup and recoup.

If you haven’t submitted your synthesis essay, get it in.

If you haven’t blogged for the past two weeks, get them up.

If you haven’t crafted a dramatic monologue, craft it and post it.

If you haven’t started prepping for the test, it would be a good time to dig into those documents I shared on Google docs.  And looking elsewhere.  Several of you have started sharing keen things on your blogs. Let one another know.

AP Lit: Picking Up “Prufrock” & Studying Sonnets

Today in class, we will finally give J. Alfred his due.

We will also complete another multiple choice test prep.  This one revolves around Richard Wilbur’s “Advice to a Prophet.”

When we close read J. Alfred today, we will use the TIQ process I described last week.  

H/W: For next class, you’ve got a pile of poetry to read and it’s gonna be great.  We will be examining the sonnet form and discussing why it endures.  I’ve put three links on our Diigo — and highlighted the poems you need to read on the “Sonnet” page.  There are two Shakespearean sonnets you need to read as well,  “Let Those Who Are in Favour” and “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?”

For the blog, continue the dramatic monologue creative endeavor assigned last week.

Oh yeah, turn in your Synthesis #3.  Today.


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: Synthesis Thinking, Test Prepping & Introducing J. Alfred Prufrock

Quarter 4 starts.  Sure, you are seniors, but isn’t that all the better reason to make the most of these next two months?

We’ll open with multiple choice test-prep, something we haven’t yet done.  (Anticipate test-prep work every class between now and the test.)  I’ll be sharing the test prep material on this one via e-mail as I want to keep it a surprise and post this the night before.

After taking thirty minutes for that work, we will workshop synthesis #3 by listing the works we referenced and sharing our introductory paragraphs and thesis statements. (If you are reading this before you come to class and are anxious about having a complete draft completed . . . well . . . you might consider having at least this much done so you are able to workshop.  The more you have complete, the more you will benefit.)

Those thirty minutes will be followed by an introduction to the night’s reading, T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”   While this poem may not seem it at first, it is a multilayered, multifaceted masterpiece of the form and serves as a great way to discuss poetic devices as well as an important poetic form we haven’t mentioned since we looked at Browning’s “The Last Duchess.”

While we are doing intense analysis and synthesis thinking, I would like us to continue our creative endeavors as they have proven to be amazing products and demonstrations of out-of-the-box thinking coupled with legitimate analysis.

The following is an excerpt from … bite my tongue . . . SparkNotes.

““Prufrock” is a variation on the dramatic monologue, a type of poem popular with Eliot’s predecessors. Dramatic monologues are similar to soliloquies in plays. Three things characterize the dramatic monologue, according to M.H. Abrams. First, they are the utterances of a specific individual (not the poet) at a specific moment in time. Secondly, the monologue is specifically directed at a listener or listeners whose presence is not directly referenced but is merely suggested in the speaker’s words. Third, the primary focus is the development and revelation of the speaker’s character. Eliot modernizes the form by removing the implied listeners and focusing on Prufrock’s interiority and isolation. The epigraph to this poem, from Dante’s Inferno, describes Prufrock’s ideal listener: one who is as lost as the speaker and will never betray to the world the content of Prufrock’s present confessions. In the world Prufrock describes, though, no such sympathetic figure exists, and he must, therefore, be content with silent reflection. In its focus on character and its dramatic sensibility, “Prufrock” anticipates Eliot’s later, dramatic works.”

So . . . create your own dramatic monologue (in poetic form) following those above guidelines and with one of two audiences in mind:

The senior class of MBC 2013 or an incoming ninth grader for the fall of 2013.  

You may contextualize it however you like.  Perhaps it is just a poem, perhaps it is embedded in a piece of artwork, delivered in spoken word form, or perhaps something else altogether.

Considering this may be quite the involved piece and I’m hoping you consider an audience well beyond our classroom walls, this is the creative piece for both the first and second weeks of the 4th quarter.


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?