A couple months ago, I read a book called Essentialism, which is a disciplined pursuit of less, or a less is more philosophy. It really affected how I see the tasks I commit to and how I evaluate what is, well, essential. Full disclosure, this has been the year where I decided to not just settle with the cherry I already had on top, but to heap more toppings on my proverbial sundae.
One suggestion from this philosophy meets self-help book was to cut tasks that nobody would miss. I thought: this is my class blog. I love blogging for my students and keeping an online record of our classroom experiences and assignments, but -- who even reads it? How much purpose does it really serve?
That's not a knock on you guys. This blogging format was an experiment that began last year with the hopes of offering a more complete picture of class. Before then, I'd always kept my class web site like this, and now that I'm a year and half (give or take) into the weekly blog, it seems to make MUCH more sense for all of us to revert to my previous organization.
So this is just to say that I have decided to discontinue my weekly blog posts updating you on your assignments. I will, however, post all of your Senior Footprint goodness when the time comes, and make sure you and your reflective videos live an infamy on www.hilliardsclass.com.
Next year, I'm going to get back to what's essential -- task sheets, texts, and ancillary materials, with maybe a blog or two thrown in the mix.
Change is evidence of progress, yes?
For you guys, keep on keeping on. I'm so proud of you, your hard work, your intelligence, your creative spirit, and how far we've come as a classroom community this year. You guys make my job easy, and I am always and forever grateful.
Signing off (for now) and only on this weekly blog. I'll be around IRL. ;-)
All the best,
As mentioned in class, you guys have Beyonce-ishly slayed our poetry unit. We've had some good days, some great days, some tough days, some rough days, and some days in between, but through it all, I've been proud of you and your willingness to dig in and grapple with poetry of all shapes and sizes.
Our most recent poetry endeavors have included a few pre-20th century selections of carpe diem poems (or a perverse carpe diem for "Porphyria's Lover") and last week, a questionably reverse carpe diem poem in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and capping it off with Socratic seminar.
Every day, we've gotten after critical AP Lit skills, and I've watched many of you really flourish in your abilities to take on any poem.
We've Venn diagrammed and we've Flip-gridded in the meantime as well.
We've also taken some time out for timed writings -- an oft requested assignment. We've discussed intro paragraph strategies and talked about our thesis statements as promises to our readers. We've also taken on 2016's infamous exam poem: Juggler, by Richard Wilbur.
Below are our poems and handouts from these weeks:
To His Coy Mistress
Venn Diagram task
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Prufrock seminar questions
Prufrock Flipgrid assignment - code Prufrock
The Black Walnut Tree timed writing
Intro paragraphs mentor texts
Juggler timed writing
And finally, here we are -- switching it up and getting down with some creative writing for WV Young Writers competition. HERE is the task sheet for that. Your submission is due next week on 2.17.
Remember/heads up -- you'll have a sub for three days next week while I'm away at a STEM conference. I'll miss you, but you'll have your journals and Kwame Alexander's Crossover, BCS's One Book, to keep you company. And trust me, Filthy McNasty is great company to keep for a few days.
Proud of you. Keep on keepin' on.
For this mega huge update, the biggie is that since the new year has begun we've kicked off a mega huge poetry study. And...
You guys are KILLING IT. I'm so excited about your progress -- the ways in which you are reading and being attentive to the text; the ways you are meaningfully marking up the text and looking beyond literary devices; the ways you are discussing poetry with your peers and taking intellectual risks in both your participation and your writing. I'm excited, and I'm proud. We've worked hard at getting on the right AP Lit track.
To get up to date on what was happening in the new year, CLICK HERE to read this post on WVCTE's Best Practices Blog. I'd write it all here, it'd be pretty redundant. So for Play-Doh pics, follow the links. :)
The week after, we followed up that good dose of purposeful play with some fairly heavy "father poems": "My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke, "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden, and "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath. We capped off the week with some non-depressing poems by e.e. cummings, and then looked for inspiration for a creative writing assignment inspired by the wonderful Randi Ward's work in her Whipstitches. (Check back later for links about that assignment...)
LAST week we furthered our studies, but switched it up to a bit more activity based learning. We scavenged for sound devices in Hamilton, laid some fresh beats for William Blake's "The Tyger," and searched for structural techniques "in the wild."
I keep coming back to the progress you've made, and I realize I'm gushing. And I don't intend to stop. :)
Keep WORKING HARD. It's paying off.
Since your last update, we've been busy with Poetry Out Loud, two sets of Novel Notes, Their Eyes Were Watching God graphic essays, and setting the table for A Doll's House with anticipation guides and Philosophical Chairs.
We've been busy with endings and beginnings. And from what I can tell, you're ready to take off the AP Lit training wheels.
That will be our focus from here on out: enriching the skills you already have, idependently applying strategies, effectively articulating your thoughts, ideas, and insights about texts in writing.
As we are wrapping up our first semester together, here are a few questions to reflect on...
How do you conistently and effectively apply reliable text-analysis strategies to the literature we're studying? What strategies best work for you? How can you offer your insights and prove them? How can you continue to work towards a more mature style and voice in writing? What skills should you practice to reach your AP Lit potential?
You guys have come a long way since August, and I'm SO PROUD of all you've accomplished -- especially your comittment to digging into literature every single day.
Below are some (not all) of the TEWWG graphic essays. As always, can't wait to see what else you all come up with.
This is just to say that
I have forgotten
the blog that I
write for you.
I was distracted,
so tired yet so inspired.
Yeah, that's where we are on the eve' of Thanksgiving Break. In the time since our last Week In Review, we have been wrapping up Slaughterhouse and essays and diving in to Their Eyes Were Watching God.
So far we've gotten after voice and dialect, context and situation, and Janie and her sexy pear tree. There seems to be some really productive and rich discussion happening with this text, and I'm excited by our progress. We've studied mentor texts, posted our text noticings, and participated in our first silent discussion.
And in the meantime, I, of course, jetted off and back again to and fro Atlanta for the NCTE annual convention, which was mindblowingly awesome and inspiring. It was reiterated to me again that I have the best job in the world and teach the best kids in the world (*cough, cough -- that's you.) ;)
Here's what you need for now.
HERE is the updated calendar.
HERE is the commentary journal assignment.
Here is your virtual high five for being awesome:
Guys, I went away to the WV Book Festival and became incredibly confused with our Week in Reviews! You can read more about that adventure HERE.
As far as the AP Lit life, we've been sketch-noting with our SH5 Visual Notes, studying mentor texts, and kicking off our Slaughterhouse Five capstone essays. We're in the thick of our work and using class time to draft our essays.
Remember, this essay is different in both kind and degree. This is not a typical "academic sounding" essay where you throw in a few five dollar words. This is an essay that should aim at being sophisticated in style and content, and an essay that requires depth of thought and careful, crafted language.
Mentor Text Noticings
You should borrow from this list of writers' moves that you have so thoughtfully identified:
Writers of analysis essays that exist in the world...
Assignment & Student Models
Click HERE for the Slaughterhouse Five capstone essay task
Click HERE for the rubric
Click HERE for Madi Cazz's model
P.S. Check out some of these awesome sketch notes!
We've been getting somewhere this week. We've continued to build classroom culture, "speed-dated" one another about our Slaughterhouse Five findings, and laid on the floor to have giant replicas of our bodies drawn to complete a character analysis map.
I'm gonna call that a pretty solid week in AP Lit. :)
Here are the basics:
For speed dating, one side of the table moved on down the row, and you were tasked with discussing the most important ideas from your Thought Plots. You guys had in depth conversations that made my English teacher heart way happy. Here are a couple of pics:
Next you were tasked with delving deeper into a character from Slaughterhouse Five. It was madness and mad fun, and you came up with some pretty solid character analysis. It was great seeing you guys work together, have a little fun, and dig into the text.
And of course here are a few pics of our mapping:
Next week: Socratic seminar, syntax fix up lesson, and Quarter Exam review.
Let's do it!
Hello all! It was a quick week, with my being out at a STEM conference hanging out in streams and such.
We kicked our week off with Short Story Focus Project presentations before totally switching gears to narrative writing, mentor texts, and the ever important and timely college application essays.
Here's the need to know info from the week.
First off, we defined Mentor Texts. Check out the pics below...
In class, we defined mentor texts as writing we study, learn from, and aspire to.
After that, you got your first cluster of mentor texts, a series of New York Times "best off" college application essays. Click here to access these texts.
We spent time in class reading and analyzing these essays and identifying the writers' moves. Here is a list of what you came up with:
Finally, HERE is the personal statement essay you worked on in class with Mr. Staley. It's due MONDAY, and I'm very much looking forward to reading them!
Hope it's been a good one. Looking forward to seeing all of you!
Last week was a bit of a challenging week, an uphill climb travelling to a destination that is still unknown.
Just when you'd made it through a fun yet maddening "Ordeal" a few more ambiguous and challenging texts were thrown your way. But you fought hard and made your way out on the other side of seminar.
I'm afraid a few of you are feeling stuck in the weeds wondering if everything we read will be ambiguous, shrouded in mystery, or "confusing."
The short answer is, of course not. But the longer answer, which I hope the work we do and the progress you make will answer is: the literature we read will be challenging and complex and it will place demands on the reader that will require more than one reading, plenty of conversation, and a mindset of embracing the confusion.
Other stuff from the week? Um, Hillary Jordan Skype! It was amazing, she was amazing, and so were you. You asked thoughtful questions, and class was buzzing with excitement. Teacher heaven, I'm telling you...
We also took a day to write a short essay in what we're calling the Reader's Bio. In an effort to get to know you better and paint a fuller picture of who you are as an individual and student, we talked about our Happy Things and then what else I need to understand about you as a reader, writer, or individual.
All that said, you're doing great and you're working hard! Stay the course, my friends.
More on the latter later, but here is the break down for last week.
Monday: "Hills Like White Elephants" & SIFT
Tuesday: "Hills" seminar
Wednesday: "The Story of an Hour" + SIFT assessment
Thursday: Reader's Bio/Hillary Jordan Skype!
Friday: Five S/Reader's Bio
So now it's official. You've met Tony Spagoni and you've joined the ranks of other Spring Mills AP Lit students. I couldn't be happier with contemplating one of life's big questions with you: WHY IS TONY SPAGONI?
We had a productive week, and we've just scratched the surface of literary analysis and the skills required to "see the meaningful cow."
Here's the breakdown:
Tuesday: We gallery walked to check out the Lit Crit posters. We applied a few lenses & competed this graphic organizer.
Wednesday: Q3 Timed Writing numero uno. You had two prompts to choose from. The Journey prompt & The Sacrifice prompt
Thursday-Friday: We discussed the benefit of text annotations, adjusted our vision for literature, and then we after "Ordeal by cheque."
Good work. I'm excited to continue finding the cow with you!
Your Lit teacher, Mrs. Hilliard