We're getting settled in to class now, yes? In these past four weeks, I've be so excited and encouraged by how much y'all are willing to dig in, to talk to one another and to me, and to begin peeling back the layers of what it takes to become better, stronger readers, writers, thinkers, speakers, and listeners.
Here's a brief(ish) rundown for each class:
- English 11 Honors:
We began this week by reading "Affrilachia" by Frank X Walker and an essay featured in TIME magazine, "Growing Up in a Sundown town" by Silas House. I'm not sure you knew what to expect from these opening texts, but it didn't take you long to realize that in this unit, you will examine texts and media that subvert and challenge Appalachia's "single story" -- that of the shoeless, toothless, uneducated hillbilly.
We also took a look at Roger May's Looking At Appalachia project. What's exciting for me to see is the slow churn of ideas and realizations about audience and purpose and how you have a voice and perspective that is a part of this Appalachian region. Remember that by next Friday you are "making" your own picture, creating a short, imagined narrative for Call and Response, OR writing a straight up analysis essay on a photo you choose and arguing whether or not it fulfills the mission of LAA.
As always, links and task sheets and texts are posted to Google Classroom. And if you're logged into your BCS Google Drive, you can access daily agendas here.
We ended the week strong, and I am so excited to see the pictures you make and the stories you tell. My pro tip for you while you contemplate and begin working on your Looking At Appalachia extension project:
Look around, there's so much beauty.
- English 11
Real footage of an English 11 student drafting a This I Believe essay this week:
You guys did a FANTASTIC job focusing in, telling your stories, and sitting down to conference with me, Mrs. Hutchinson, or...The Lead Cardinal. That's right, Mr. Myers helped out with writing conferences in 7th period, and several of you had the opportunity to learn from your principal, which was really cool collaboration.
Essays are due Monday, and then we're moving on y'all.
I can't tell you how proud I am of your work, your courage, and your authenticity in your writing. But I can try...I'm proud of you. Keep up the (thoughtful and honest and) great work!
- AP Lit
We read like readers and we read like writers.
This week's playlist included, Clint Smith's "There is a Lake Here", Jamaal May's "There Are Birds Here", and if you're in 6th period "Dinosaurs in the Hood" by Danez Smith and "Left" by Nikky Finney.
And here's the thing I love about teaching this course (besides all of you). It is Advanced Placement Literature AND Composition. So, my job is not only to help you become more careful readers, it is to help you become stronger writers. But it ain't easy. Almost all of you come into AP Lit having deeply internalized and mastered the mechanics of sentence and paragraph structure. You know the parts of sentences and of essays, and you can identify the characteristics of great writing. Chances are, by now, you've even made some great writing of your own.
So here's how I try to help my AP Literature AND Composition students: by challenging you to find your voice. The real one...not the SAT one. The voice that is solely and uniquely yours -- the one that will tell stories and express ideas in a way that no one else in the world can or will because this voice and these ideas belong only to you.
As (over)stated in class, I am a major fan of the work of Hanif Abdurraqib. And just like we all have a taste in music, we do in writing as well, and well, his work is up my alley. It's smart, observant, funny, moving, challenging, compelling, experimental, and...real. He's a writer I read and say I want to write like that.
My hope for us this year is that we use his (generously donated and for which I am inexpressibly grateful) collection of essays They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us as monthly mentor texts for deep analysis, intention, and style and voice. We will supplement this collection with other essays from periodicals like The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and other places publishing smart analysis that can guide and inspire our writing, and we will study these too to find our voices and become stronger writers.
Nothing to it, right?
As you're drafting your poetry blogs for publishing tomorrow, consider a "move" Abdurraqib makes in the first essay we tackled "A Night in Bruce Springsteen's America".
Now, here are some pictures from class I love:
I'm looking forward to another meaningful week with each and every one of you.
All the best,
I have been absolutely positively delighted to have met you lovely, lovely warm and engaging students. It may sound like I'm gushing, and you know what? I am. I love meeting my new students at the beginning of a fresh year. After all, we're going to be spending a lot of time together, and we want it to be as awesome as we can make it.
But the First Days are no joke. We set our alarms, pull our sleepy selves out of bed, inhale a waffle, fight the traffic, and somehow make it to first period by 7:25 AM. Honestly, it's been a feat of strength for me so far to be up and at 'em and maintain my energy throughout the day. But the good news is -- I get to see you! And there's coffee.
Last week we focused on only a few essential things:
Typical beginning of the year stuff, I know. But what I saw in these four days of class was so, so encouraging. I saw you taking risks, having conversations with people you said you'd never talked to before, making other classmates feel welcome, participating in classroom discussion, and sharing your stories with me in your student surveys.
From where I'm sitting, we're off to a GREAT start! I'm already so proud of what you're accomplishing in each of your classes and I can't wait to see where this year takes us!
All the best,
P.S. And remember, to see #alltheslides from class, go here.
P.P.S AP Kids! Here are your beautiful, sunny class pics. Other classes -- we've gotta get some group pics. : )
AP Lit Exam kids:
As promised, here is a post taking you through all things exam related. I'll keep my editorializing to a minimum, pinkie promise. So, let's cut to the chase, shall we?
First off, here's a reminder of when the exam is (MAY 9 AT 8:00 -- delicious breakfast in 729 7:15, be there!), how the AP exam is structured, and how it is scored:
Next, here are some places you can click to review:
HERE FOR READING STUDY SKILLS.
HERE FOR WRITING STUDY SKILLS.
And HERE for some really great PRACTICE.
And HERE for LOTS of PROMPTS & ANCHOR PAPERS & scoring commentary. These are your friends. Invest the time.
Next up, I'd like to offer you some advice from real, live AP readers. These videos are great, and so are the people, my Internet and IRL friends. We'll watch them in class, but watch them again, and consider the advice these pros have to offer.
Next, let's talk Hilliard's common exam-related refrains from class. And let's keep the list brief, so you can hold on to 'em:
But let's get for really real, shall we?
You are insightful, perceptive students. You are adept at close reading, writing in your authentic voice, and identifying moments of beauty, meaning, and depth in literary works. You have impressed me time and again this year with your attitudes and aptitudes, your insights and your outlooks. YOU, AP Lit Class of 2018, are the cream of the crop. You will own this test. I believe in you. You believe in you. The readiness is all.
Welp. The will it/won't it conversations can now cease. Our days of being like "omg it might snow, did you hear it might snow?!" are over.
The snow is falling and it's beautiful. And annoying. We've got things to do, y'all!
Besides looking for information on Remind and staying up to date on Google Classroom, here's a breakdown of what needs accomplished between now and the next time I see you face-to-face back in Room 729.
ENGLISH 10 HONORS & ENGLISH 11
Had we been in school today, we would've spent another day drafting our Literacy essays on Darkness. Your deadline was set for tomorrow. But the way it's looking outside, we'll likely have another day in our pajamas.
So, here's the situation: Your final revised essay is DUE the day we return to school. To be on the safe side, plan to submit your paper Thursday.
You also need to cozy up with your My Reading Life Book 2. And remember, this should be a book you actually want to read and hang out with. My kiddos at home are reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and a wacky looking book called Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey. I'm currently reading What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte. There's nothing quite like the quiet of a fresh coat of snow to get in the reading zone.
Oh! Oh! Speaking of reading on a snow day, a few years ago when we had a snow-cation, my students took clever reading selfies in the snow and tweeted them at me for a few bonus points. Anybody want to play? If yes, tweet me a reading selfie @karlahilliard and use #myreadinglife to score a few extra points.
Now, everybody good? Good. Papers. Darkness. Thursday. Google Classroom. Reading. Yes...check, check. Here's to snow!
AP LITERATURE & COMPOSITION
You guys. You GUYS. Insert all the emoji faces here. We've had such great momentum built and broken with Hamlet. It's a turbulent relationship full of indecision. Kind of like if your uncle murdered your father, then married your mother, and assumed the role of your father, only to find your dead ghost dad one night asking you to avenge his death, but you're actually a pretty smart, albeit contemplative guy who's like, c'mon now, I'm in love and in college and have friends and people really like me (except for my girlfriend's father and brother, but that's a different story), but like, I've got to somehow manage this horrible deed and I hate my uncle-father aunt-mother so bad! Like that, right? The agony!
Ok, for real. Here's what you need to do. Listen closely.
You'll need to finish up Act 4 work AND take care of some reading.
You have 3 options for Act 4 work. Please choose whichever option is most helpful to you.
If you were diligent over the weekend and have ample annotations and evidence of your close and careful reading, you may forego the in class assignment and show me your annotations our first day back in school.
Continue the Act 4 work from class. Using the packet provided of "greatest hits" lines, for each SCENE (and this is a change for 7th period, so heads up), record your NOTICINGS & your CONCLUSIONS. Create a bulleted list of no fewer than 5 noticings and 2 conclusions per scene.
Continue the Act 4 work from class. Using the packet provided of "greatest hits" lines, for each BOX (and this is a change for 6th period, so heads up), record your NOTICINGS & your CONCLUSIONS. You may be briefer since you are giving your attention to each excerpt.
Now, let's talk about reading...
For now, carefully read, annotate, and be ready to discuss Act 5.1.
IF, we see that we'll be out of school for an extended number of days, I may ask you to finish the reading on your own. Oy vey. The end is so much fun to read together! But alas, the show must go on. Er, play. You know what I mean.
Questions? Holler at me on Remind. You got it. The readiness is all, Horatio. (You'll get that joke soon....)
Love to all and see you soon(ish)!
Today is Day 8 of the West Virginia Teacher Strike. Make no doubt, it is a cause I believe in with my whole heart. When I consider my colleagues -- your teachers, I am reminded of the hard work, heart, and aptitude I witness each and every day. I have tremendous respect for my fellow educators, and I'm fighting to keep them here -- at home in the Wild and Wonderful. But, that's for another post...
This post is to catch you up to speed with Hamlet, so we can hit the play button whenever we (joyfully) return to school. I'm not sure yet when that will be, but I am more than ready to get back to 729.
Today, some of us met up at Panera for some Hamlet reading, discussion, coffees, teas, and various impressive pastries.
Step 1 of the off-campus catch-up was...hugs!
Step 2 was to review where we left off before we parted ways -- the end of Act I. Remember how I drew that fairly elaborate, yet hastily sketched character map on the board? Remember how King Claudius is Hamlet's "uncle-father" and Gertrude his "aunt-mother"? Also, remember how Claudius was pretty insulting to Hamlet and his grief? Remember how Ghost Dad Old King Hamlet is like, hey son, your uncle was the real snake in the garden and poured poison in my ears and it was wicked gross, so like, you've got to go avenge my death? Remember Polonius and Laertes and Ophelia (the latter, Hamlet's gal who she promises is behaving honorably)? Remember, importantly, Hamlet's "antic disposition" he says he'll put on after he talks to Ghost Dad Old King Hamlet?
Yes, of course you do.
Step 3: We jumped into not only the pastries but the play. We successfully covered Act 2 scene i and the first half of the verrrrryyyy long Act 2 scene ii. Besides the absence of the white board, we had class. We read around the circle and stopped for clarification, notices, and discussion.
So, what now?
Act 2 is now officially independent study. Access whatever resources you need to accomplish this goal. When we return, of course, we'll make sure we get square and everyone feels confident before moving on, but...the show (or play, rather) must go on.
I am beyond excited to reconvene in our classroom, and I'm grateful to those of you who were able to attend today's meet up.
Missed today? If we are still on out on Wednesday, plan for another meet up! Same time, same place.
Until then, do something you enjoy, pick up a book, make some time to hang out with the Prince of Denmark. Much love to all.
Let's build some context about the backdrop of our next novel, The Things They Carried by a masterful writer and storyteller, Tim O'Brien.
While you could read and appreciate this text without the historical context, it will punch harder by learner the severity and social context of the Vietnam War.
That's what this work is about: learn what you can about Vietnam -- why we were there, why it was controversial, and what America was like.
Your task: Research the Vietnam War to build background knowledge and context.
1. Research the Vietnam War. Consider timeline of events, impact of war in America, the draft, controversy surrounding war, political consequences, lasting effects of war, and so on.
2. Provide 3 interesting and meaningful facts about this event by commenting on this blog post. Take care to use a reliable source and cite it in your comment. No Wikipedia and no "answers" sights.
**The catch? No repeats! Let's gather up as much information as we can to help create the backdrop for this truly inventive and moving novel.
Ok, AP Lit kids, here's the deal. You want the good news or bad news first?
Let's start with the good.
I love your blogs. There's something so uniquely you about each of them -- the layouts you've chosen, the quotes and quips you've included, the photos you've uploaded, the ways you've made these digital spaces your own. It's really neat to see this extension of you and your personalities, and it's gratifying how you take care in your work and share it with me and other students across the country. I love your curiosity and your creativity, and I more than appreciate your "down-ness." (Like, seriously, you have no idea.)
And now, because I know you're wanting me to get on with it, the not so good news.
Understand that I'm now speaking in generalities. What I'm seeing GENERALLY in your blogs is writing and analysis that is too brief, only skims the surface, and is underdeveloped. It seems like some of the poems you've chosen are random and not exactly works you connect to or have any desire to explore. In a wide-open assignment, 25 books, and The Internet at your disposal, that should not be.
I also notice that your analyses tend to read like READER RESPONSE, which isn't entirely bad, but isn't entirely good either. I'd like to see a blend of reader response and critical response. If we can strike that balance now and here in this space, we'll strike gold come May. (Sorry, that was lame.) But for real -- that's the goal here -- USING YOUR AUTHENTIC VOICE TO EXPLORE AND ANALYZE CONTEMPORARY POETRY. 'Tis no easy task.
For now, it'd be a good idea to revisit the assignment. So, here it is. Review away.
Long story short -- I'm looking for a minimum of 3 DEVELOPED paragraphs, and work that includes the title, author, and embedded quotations.
And it'd also be a good idea to check out these blogs for analysis inspiration:
Keep in mind that your blog has readers, and we still have some URL issues or some plain old blank pages. So here's the really real stuff: not posting is not an option. It looks bad on you and it looks bad on us.
Let's give these other AP Lit kids in Michigan and Georgia and Virginia and Southern West Virginia and Texas and North Carolina something they can sink their teeth into! You owe it to yourselves to take as much away from this experience as you can. Also, I think you guys are special. So for whatever that's worth...
Keep at it. Keep working hard, thinking hard, and being fearless and creative and authentic.
All the best,
Hello STEAM Academy kids!
It's been a minute, and unfortunately tomorrow for 2nd and 3rd periods, it'll be a minute longer. I'll explain in a minute, BUT FIRST! an update on The House on Mango Street and your handy dandy key sentence charts.
This weekend, you were to FINISH the last third of the reading, so all the way to the end. You are also to complete one final key sentence chart, but with a twist -- dragons! Haha, just kidding -- INTERPRETIVE QUESTIONS. (Sorry I'm in a weird mood today.) You are to complete 8 entries for this final round.
Here's what it should look like:
So tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will be joining Dr. Marcum, Mrs. Stegall, and Mrs. Corder at Spring Mills Middle to discuss STEAM Academy and STEAM education in general. I'm so very sorry to miss you again 2nd and 3rd periods. While I'm away you'll be doing a few things:
- New Article of the Week (AoW) (Mr. Clark & Mrs. Bowman will hook you up)
- 1 page AoW response
- Key Sentence chart give one; get one activity
Everything else? We'll catch up on Tuesday.
Can't wait to see you rocking your spirit gear this week! All the best and see you soon,
Dear AP Litters:
On Monday, we will have an incredible opportunity to Skype with Clint Smith, spoken-poetry champion, author of Counting Descent, doctoral candidate at Harvard, new father, and all around awesome human.
I am beyond excited. You should be, too. What I've found is there are so many artists and writers out there who are generous and kind and willing to help you grow as young people and thinkers.
To prepare for our chat, please submit in the comments below at least TWO potential questions for our Skype session. I'll sort through them and tag the question askers via Remind and then first thing Monday afternoon.
Otherwise, you've got some Slaughterhouse Five reading and Thought Plots to take care of. And I recommend you also find something to do that makes you happy -- take a walk, cook a meal, go visit a grandparent or family member, spend some time alone, pick a pumpkin -- follow your bliss. I know I will be. ;-)
All the best, guys, and keep thinking, exploring, and working hard.
P.S. Make sure to follow #aplit18 on Twitter. I'm tweeting contemporary poems that would be good fodder for your next blog post coming up in. October.
So I'd intended my first post on this here class blog to be an open letter to my students about this year. Because your letters to me were heartfelt and considered and inspiring. I owe it to you to promise you that I will never, ever expect you to be or embody your sibling, that I will try my very best to mix it up and keep you actively engaged, but that yes, I will "bore" you sometimes and some days you inevitably will have to "eat your vegetables" in class.
But that's neither here nor there. What I need from you (talkin' to YOU #aplit18) is your poetry blog URLs! In the comments below, please create a record of your site. Remember your URL is whatever you named it + weebly + .com. For example www.hilliardsclass.com is mine. :-)
And that's it! As promised, no more than 5 minutes of homework.