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,