Language & Composition

Mr. Eure | Brewster High School

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Final Salvo, Part 3

The last piece of this puzzle is your final grade abatement justification. This post reviews a few of the changes that have been made. First, there is a rubric now to help you focus your thinking:

You still need to review the guide to grade abatement and then read over everything else I’ve given you, including the more recent additions to the list on the side of this site. This rubric has language for each tier that should help you perform your rhinoceros work, however, and it provides a space for concise writing. More importantly, this rubric sets one number for each tier. You may not suggest a number that is not listed here. If you believe you are a 7, for instance, and I agree, you will receive an 87. Let’s hope this removes the argument over thresholds and the quibbling over points.

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Final Salvo, Part 2

This post covers your final exam, which is in some ways a direct extension of your autodidactic unit. Here is a copy of the overview, including the rubric for Part II:

This information (except for the rubric, which cannot survive the translation to WordPress) is reprinted in full after the jump.

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Final Salvo, Part 1

The writing that follows looks a bit strange after it’s been reformatted by WordPress; you’ll find it’s difficult to read the footnotes, and some of the miscellaneous presentation is different. I trust you can manage. This is a copy of what was shared with you through Google Drive, and your job this weekend is to read it.

Your job over the next week is to read everything that starts here:

That is last year’s complicated series of posts on the final essay. You obviously have a different kind of assignment, and one divorced from the toxicity of grades; the process is not all that different, however, and there is a massive amount of help to be had in those posts. Lots of it still applies. You might even note that some of the language has, in fact, already been used on you this year.

Your job is to make your way through everything in that series of posts, including the work from your predecessors in AP Language. This is all you need to pull of the writing goal outlined below. You will receive more student models in class. We’ll also go over the final exam and all its attendant stresses next week.

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An older version of Grand Theft Auto

In the previous post, I asked you to reply in the comments with your favorite words and phrases. This post will be a bit more negative, because we are considering the language that we hate—examples of logomisia, if you will. Like linguaphilia, logomisia is created from two roots: logos, Greek for “word,” and misia, Greek for “hatred” or “disgust for.” After reading Orwell, Nunberg, and Wallace, you should have a sense of the way language mutates, shifts, and sometimes declines; now it’s your turn to chime in, although the chime might be more of a clarion (or perhaps the bell that this guy is ringing). After the jump, a few ways to situate yourself before replying.

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Love of language…

Congratulations. You made it.

Of course, our work doesn’t end after the exam. It’s time for a different kind of study of language to take center stage. (Or as the first of Orwell’s rules might have me rewrite that, it’s time for language to enter the scene and chew a little scenery.) We start with linguaphilia, a word formed from the Latin lingua,”tongue” or “language,” and phila, “dear” or “beloved.”  It means a love of language, of words and phrases, of how we strings together letters and sounds to make meaning—and it is the subject of your next unit of study. Our essential questions:

  • Is the English language truly in decline?
  • Do semantic debates matter?
  • How do Internet-driven shifts in communication, such as texting and LOLspeak, affect us?

Let’s get into the background reading. I’ve already given you in this post the first (and arguably most influential) modern treatment of it: George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language.” Spend a little time with this, and it will inevitably shape how you scavenge the texts around you for words and phrases. You’ve also read Geoffrey Nunberg’s “The Decline of Grammar,” a lengthier argument from 1983 that explores the same issues—it was one of the passages on the 2001 multiple-choice practice exam. After the jump, you’ll find a regular plethora (as opposed to an irregular plethora? I just like the assonance of the phrase) of links to more perspectives, plus your assignment.

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The Exam, or Avoiding Hadal Implosion

One week from now, your exam in AP English Language and Composition will be a memory. There should be some comfort in that realization; nothing can stop the crawl of time, so you are almost through the gauntlet.

The best way to spend a few of the hours between now and 8AM on Friday is to revisit the folder of practice material we’ve covered over the last two weeks. As you read your essays and study your multiple-choice answers, you are priming your understanding and skills—but you are just priming them, because you can’t easily cram for this exam. You can study rhetorical terms and organizational tools, and it might help to quiz yourself on that; for the most part, however, there just isn’t that much to cram with.

I know that those of you with multiple AP exams and the SAT will spend the next two weeks cramming information into your short-term memory. You’re up against the sort of ineluctable stress of high-stakes testing. Just know that regurgitation like that will not help you very much on the English Language exam you take on Friday. You must instead demonstrate the skills and strengths and knowledge developed over an entire year.

That gives us another possible comfort: At this point, you are who you are as a writer, reader, and thinker. For better or worse, you’re pretty much as prepared right now as you will be when the gun goes off. So you should not stress or panic. You should review the exam format, remind yourself of what you’ve learned, and find your way into the right mindset.

Of course, a few of you will benefit from practice and last-minute strengthening. Part of our student-centric focus in here means that you call the shot at a moment like this. Just don’t overthink or outthink yourself. If you need it, here is a copy of our free-response overview, which contains an overview of the entire exam, plus a score calculator (thank Olivia H. in Period 6 for the tip):

Use that to help focus you, and plan to spend class time conferencing with me or your peers. Meanwhile, get some rest, relax as much as you can, and keep talking this out. We’ll get back into real learning once you’re through the woods. Good luck.