Sunday, October 12, 2008

Week of 10-13-08 Through 10-24-08



This is a new feature I am starting on the blog where I will detail what we will be studying over the next two week period in all of my classes. This way, parents, students and anyone else who cares to may keep up with us on our readings and assignments.

The first quarter of the year is rapidly disappearing. Therefore, it is time to start bringing the first group of readings and rounds of exams to a close.

In my homeroom, English II Honors for tenth graders, we are finishing our first group of Shakespearean sonnets. Early in the week, the students will write an essay on the group, their second major essay of the quarter. So far, our focus has been on Shakespeare’s style and finding the ways he plays with language outside of the theater. We have read a number of famous and lesser known sonnets, examined the sonnet style in rhyme scheme and rhythm, discussed scansion and meter, as well as figurative and literal language. We have even analyzed a few of the sonnets as essays, figuring out what Shakespeare’s thesis is and how he makes his case by the ending two line couplet. Next up, the students will take control of the class. Each has been assigned a sonnet to teach the others. I will observe and fill in the gaps where needed. The next two weeks should be a bit different from the course so far as it will be more student driven, something I enjoy a lot more. This also fulfills our state requirements for public speaking.

The ninth graders in my second period English I Honors course are in for a rough week. They have a number of tests to complete for me. They have read short fiction by Edgar Allan Poe, Daphne du Maurier, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and a poem by Walter de la Mare. Now they will take a short answer exam on each selection followed by an in-class essay linking the themes and characters of all the selections together. They also have a vocabulary test on Thursday. As we wrap up the first unit in their anthology, I will be assigning them personal persuasive speeches to be given in class in the coming weeks. They will read some classic speeches, including “I Have A Dream” by Martin Luther King, and “The New Frontier” by John F. Kennedy, among others. We will dip into some Native American work, and discuss just what makes a good speech. Again, these lessons work with the state standards for public speaking.

The senior AP Literature and Composition course has multiple assignments working right now. They are waiting for me to finish an edit of their first draft of the college application essay. I will be returning those with extensive comments and they will begin the rewriting and revising process. Meanwhile, we are finishing a detailed study of Dante’s Inferno. We will discuss the last few Cantos this week, hear some music based on the poem, and prepare for a short answer and take home essay exam on the work. Then we will launch into Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

In AP Language and Composition for grade eleven, we continue to study our sample essays in the Norton anthology. We will again visit Joan Didion’s work this week, as well as other favorite writers of mine, Scott Russell Sanders and Annie Dillard. The students are finishing the writing of a paper on their definition of home due Tuesday when we return from the long weekend. They will also be working on more informal writing this week in the form of journal entries. Many of the pieces in this section of the Norton come from the writers’ notebooks. So I have them emulating the great writers in their journals. They will turn in a sample of their journalistic work during the second week.

I have the same group of students in eleventh grade again later each afternoon in SAT Preparation class. There we are working on writing the SAT essay. We will write a number of practice essays and read some student samples while working through our Kaplan workbooks. We will also once again hit vocabulary really hard, a common weakness with most students.

Even though tomorrow is a holiday for students, the teachers will be on campus for a workshop. Thus begins a busy week with the due date for final quarter grades just a few weeks away.