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: 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.


AP Lit: Finishing Liberty & a Closer Look at True Grit

Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 9.22.20 AM Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 9.21.56 AMI planned a lesson.  It was a fair plan.  I wrote with the blessings of a good friend.

It begins with writing about this poem.  A good poem by my estimation, Anne Sexton is its writer.  It would be good to discuss the speaker’s attitude toward death.  Use the words that one finds listed here to help with that endeavor.

Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 8.50.15 AM

We will then watch the end of a film entitled The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  A noble film, it was made by John Ford, a Mainer.  Mainers are by their nature a good sort.  John Ford died a long time ago.  I did not know him.

And we will then discuss the novel, True Grit.  I warrant the day shall be one of the better days we shall have.

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!

AP Lit: True Grit & Liberty Valance

Today we started exploring what it means to have “true grit” and what it means to shoot Liberty Valance.

We discussed similarities already emerging between Portis’ True Grit, Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Shelley’s Frankenstein.  We looked into the importance of frame narratives, extended flashbacks and filters of truth.  We took note of themes across the works, such as man’s relationship with nature, the dark side of technology and innovation, and the fallibility of codified law.  And we looked into Ford’s use of composition, color, costuming, imagery and symbolism to convey meaning in Liberty Valance

Wednesday will feature much of the same with the addition of an on-demand writing practice session. We will also close read selections of True Grit as we hope to make more discrete connections to Liberty Valance.

For Wednesday, folks should read up to page 113 of True Grit.  You may of course read further — just refrain from the spoilers!  (Caleb . . . )  And blog to the following: We are told Mattie’s story from her own p.o.v., but as a flashback, her adult self looking back on her childhood.  We’ve seen this before in novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird.  Discuss the effect of this technique on the emerging themes in the book and what value/benefits you think Portis brings to his narrative by making this choice.