This week we shifted from whole-class workshop to smaller groups. Essays that don’t get workshopped this week will likely not get workshopped at all before the portfolio is due in December.
We went over the Rhetorical Situation mini-assessment from a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to discuss specifically some of the information students could have found and didn’t, including details about the author, the publication, and the audience. I then gave students a new text to practice with that we’ll continue working with next class.
We finally got back to Current Events today. I made Topic 1/Slide 1 due today, and gave students time to work on these or begin on Topic 2/Slide 2, which is due Tuesday, 10/10 for A2 and Wednesday, 10/11 for B7. I then introduced the next part of Rhetorical Analysis — Appeals. We talked through characteristics of logical, emotional, and ethical appeals, and then we returned one last time to the Steve Jobs speech to try and identify where he uses these different appeals, and how he uses them to further his purpose. After reviewing Claim, Data, Commentary, I asked students to put this all together by writing three short paragraphs, one about Jobs’s use of each appeal. Homework: Part 3 annotations are due Friday for A2 and next Monday for B7; also, don’t forget about Current Events Topic 2!
After discussing students’ lists of confusing and surprising events from Part 1 of Hole in My Life, I had everyone complete a Rhetorical Situation chart for this first portion of the book. We are going to chart the evolution of Gantos’s identity, as well as the changes in his purpose, throughout the book.
I collected the independent novels today to check Parts 1 and 2. I gave students an AP prompt to practice finding the Rhetorical Situation and writing a thesis statement on their own in 20 minutes, even though they will need to do this in about half that time on the exam. Then students worked on conducting some historical research into their novel and author to help provide some context for that text. Homework: finish the historical research assignment before the due date/time on Google Classroom.
Picking up where we left off last class, we workshopped more creative nonfiction essays for the entire class today. We will continue next week, probably in smaller groups for efficiency.
After missing a week of school for a death in my family, we returned to the Creative Nonfiction essays today to get those turned in during the first 15 minutes of class. Then we talked about some of the norms and expectations around workshop before beginning to workshop essays as an entire class. We got through about 1 1/2 essays today, and we’ll do another full-class workshop next time. After that, we’ll probably split into smaller groups to make better use of our time.
After missing a week of school for a death in my family, I returned to help students back into the book Hole in My Life. I gave everyone some reading time at the start of class, and then I split the class into 10 groups. Each group spent the bulk of class researching one of Gantos’s literary allusions from Part 1 of his memoir. Before we wrapped for the day, I also had students make a list of events in Part 1 that they found surprising as well as events they found confusing.
After missing a week of school for a death in my family, we returned to discussing the rhetorical situation today. Students had read Steve Jobs’s 2005 Stanford University Commencement Address while I was gone, but we actually watched it today. Students used the video of the speech, as well as the university president’s introduction beforehand, to form a more complete understanding of the rhetorical situation, which we discussed in depth during class. Students also had some time to read/annotate their independent novels. Homework: I’ll be checking Part 1 and Part 2 of your novels next class.
In our last day before rough drafts are due, I shared some more information about my expectations for the creative nonfiction piece everyone is working on as well as some suggestions for how to better integrate imagery and setting into these essays. I talked through portions of two chapters in the Burroway text where students could read further. And, everyone was given ample work time in preparation for showing me a 75% complete draft at the start of next class. Homework: rough drafts!
We spent a significant amount of time today with Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, which students had annotated last class. We reviewed some of the components that make pre-20th Century texts like these so hard to read, and practiced chunking the text and paraphrasing portions of it. Then I defined rhetoric and introduced the first components of our study of rhetoric — the rhetorical triangle and the rhetorical situation. We went back to Lincoln to attempt to find all four components of the rhetorical situation and practice synthesizing that information into a 1–2 sentence thesis for a hypothetical essay. Homework: keep reading and annotating Part 1 of your independent novel!
I started class by checking everyone’s independent novel for a grade. Students divided their novels up into four roughly equal chunks before beginning some reading time on Part 1.
- Read Part 1 by the start of class on 9/21
- Part 2 for 9/27
- Part 3 for 10/5
- Part 4 for 10/11
We will set due dates for the first current events topic soon, probably next class.
Then we returned to the Mary Sherry essay from last time to begin looking at author/audience/purpose and to practice a dispassionate analysis of a text independent from whatever feelings the text may evoke in us. After discussing this for a bit, we began working with a more difficult text by doing a slow read-aloud and annotation. We’ll continue working with this text next time.
Homework: make some progress every night on those Part 1 annotations.
We started working on the nonfiction essays in earnest — narrowing down topics, completing outlines, and working on some other drafting activities to improve the use of imagery, setting, and dialogue in particular. We also set up Google Classroom for these first workshop drafts.
If you’re still having trouble coming up with ideas:
- 10 Narrative Writing Prompts
- Writing Personal Essays With Help From The New York Times
- 650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing
Once you’re ready to begin writing, join the Google Classroom class for your block, open the assignment, and begin typing.
To help students add lots of significant detail to their essays, we completed an outline/setting handout and visualized essays as comic strips and people as characters.
We wrapped up our discussion of Mice today. We then began laying the groundwork for our ongoing discussion of current events this year.
Students started some preliminary current events reading before turning to our first formal study of rhetoric for the semester.
Homework: have your independent novel in class, ready to read, by Wednesday, 9/13.
Students returned to their character sketches and comic strip outlines to begin class. We then talked through this website and Google Classroom before beginning final drafts of the narratives. (We also talked about why it’s unnecessary, and actually detrimental to “quit” all of your iPad apps by habitually swiping them off the app-switching screen like some sort of trained monkey. Not only does it not preserve battery, it uses more energy than if you just left them alone.) Then we began looking at the text for the mini-assessment next class.
We finished up with the Benjamin Banneker piece today, reviewing the types of things I’m going to ask students to find on their own with a new text next week. Students then returned to their narratives. They worked with a partner to identify opportunities for more imagery. Then they wrote up some character sketches for the people in their narratives. And finally they worked on some rough comic strip outlines of the three stories they were attempting to tell. Next week we’ll work on integrating this work into the narratives and assembling a finished product to turn in. Homework: if your narratives aren’t already typed in a Google doc, work on that. You might also spend some time on these character sketches and comic strip outlines.
Today was our first Socratic seminar of the year. After discussing the rationale and some norms around Socratic seminar in my classroom, everyone wrote some more questions before beginning a student-led discussion of Of Mice and Men. Students turned in a reflection on their evolving thoughts about the novel before leaving. Homework: have your independent novel in class ready to read next Wednesday.
We completed our final pre-writing exercises from the yellow book before students did some independent work examining the similarities and differences among the last three professional nonfiction models we read. We discussed those similarities and differences to develop a list of criteria nonfiction essays should have. We also began using the Burroway text for some new prompts as well as some instruction on the elements of these essays. Homework: complete one piece of pre-writing from ch. 7 of Burroway; spend about 20 minutes on it.
After a discussion of theme and how to write about it, students worked on revisions to their summer essays over Of Mice and Men. Homework: have your independent novel in class, ready to read, by Wednesday, 9/13.
To compliment their work on their past/current identity narratives, students today began thinking about their future selves. We will begin weaving all of these narratives together later this week. We spent some more time with the Benjamin Banneker piece today, which we will also wrap up next time.
We went back to some writing prompts for pre-writing before returning to the professional sample from last class, “My New Look.” We discussed the author, how he wanted to be perceived, and where we saw this in the text. We also discussed his purpose and some of the hallmarks of this type of writing. To wrap up, students read two new essays in a different style — we will be comparing the style of these three essays in a future class. Homework: try to spend some time soon extending one of the pre-writing exercises you’ve already completed in your journal.
Students began class by working some more on their personal narratives, hopefully coming close to completing their second story/anecdote. Then we finished talking about speaker/context/audience/purpose for the identity text we began last class. At the end of class, we started working on a new, much more challenging text that I borrowed from the AP Lang exam several years ago. We will continue with this text next time. Homework: try and wrap up your second narrative story/anecdote.
I reminded students of their need to find an independent novel by the week after next, and then we dove into annotations in more depth. We reviewed the why and how of annotation before talking about some of the items students annotated in Steinbeck’s first chapter for homework. We also talked about how to ask good questions, and students practiced by writing questions from Of Mice and Men, either from their first reading or their re-read of ch. 1. Homework: read and annotate the last chapter in the novel for next class.
After collecting syllabus slips from last class, we returned to Claim, Data, Commentary and the year-round school topic today for a little more practice. Then we switched gears to talk about fiction. Students received the Independent Novel List and we talked a bit about the expectations around procuring a book. Then we began discussing Of Mice and Men, talking plot, characters, setting, and then doing a close read of the first page and a half of the novel. We briefly discussed annotation before the end of class. Homework: re-read and annotate ch. 1 of the novel for next class.
We switched up the pre-writing activity today, this time returning to the identity charts students completed last week for some inspiration. Students identified a few anecdotes from their lives that could illustrate their identities with significant detail, dialogue, and setting. These may turn into part of the first workshop draft (or maybe not). While they were working, I checked the homework from last week. Students read a new professional sample at the end of class and spent some time thinking and writing about the author and his intended message so we could discuss this next class.
We began the semester with the very beginning of the writing process — pre-writing. Students set up journals that they will write in every day for the next several weeks. The idea is that they will develop a broad collection of rough writing from which they can pick and choose the best ideas to polish for in-class workshop. We also began practicing the skill of reading like a writer with a poem and a short personal essay. And we went over course norms.
Homework: complete the “Quilting” exercise from our pre-writing book. In short, dig through your clothes (especially older clothes), pick a few that evoke strong memories or emotions in you, list all of this information, and then begin writing about one or more pieces — particularly where there might be conflict between two or more.
We began the year exploring identity. We have watched and read a couple different speeches to get used to thinking about the persona of authors and how that affects their messages. In reading these speeches, students have been easing back into annotation. We will continue with both of these over the next couple of weeks. Students have also been documenting their own identity and are working on drafts of a personal narrative.
We started the year in AP Lang with a number of writing samples. Students turned in their Of Mice and Men summer essays, or spent the first week getting caught up if they hadn’t done them yet. I gave three timed writings for pre-assessment, one for each type of essay on the AP Lang exam. We discussed different school calendars using two texts I provided (Time Magazine and the Daily Times-Call) as well as students own experiences from this past summer, and we began using this topic to review and practice Claim, Data, Commentary structure for paragraphs — the foundation of good arguments and academic writing. I also introduced the syllabus for the course.