Language & Composition

Mr. Eure | Brewster High School

Category Archives: Assignments

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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Caged Birds and a Different Kind of Freedom

The best of a Google image search for “caged bird.”

Amid the clamor of grade abatement this past week, you were given a series of questions on rhetoric and style for Francine Prose’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read.” Your assignment was to answer the questions, zeroing in on the ones you believe (being metacognitive, as always) you need help with.

Here is the key: Francine Prose, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read” — Questions on Rhetoric and Style

The questions are reprinted, along with guiding commentary for each response. Read the entire thing. Don’t just skim it. Teach yourself from this. Let this feedback settle in you a bit (like bricks or dead words, as Maya Angelou would say). And keep in mind the following:

  • This is meant as (and is, obviously) preparation for the AP exam.
  • It must be done entirely at home, since we are using class time for writing work.
  • Only by reading and processing this key can you ask me to help you with individual questions.
  • You should be ready at this exact moment to look at this key and apply it to your answers.

That last one is probably most important to those of you who are sort of collapsing under the realization that everything you did last quarter was (1) noted by your teacher and (2) part of the grade abatement profile. Everything counts. If you didn’t read Prose and/or complete the QORAS I gave you, you have failed to juggle your responsibilities.

Send me your questions about the Prose QORAS over email. I’ll arrange feedback in small groups or individually based on that. Get this done by Tuesday; we’ll be moving on to other reading on reading at that point.

Occam’s Razor and the Rhinoceros Test

Dürer's Rhinoceros

Dürer’s Rhinoceros (1515)

The third quarter ends on April 12. Until that day, you will be working individually and silently on a series of assignments. There are two reasons for this:

  1. You are turning your focus inward in order to determine your effectiveness this quarter, and that requires patience, time, and quiet.
  2. You have stopped being productive during your collaborative time.

#2 will come up again as we discuss grade abatement and the end of the quarter. Just keep in mind that even when I’m working myself—when I’m engineering and building the things you use in here—I’m aware of who spends the period chatting about unrelated things; I know who reads ESPN instead of this website; and I can tell—through body language alone—who is on-task and who isn’t. And that, Kinder, is just the time wasted in class.

You’ll start the grade abatement process on 4/5/13 by grabbing an index card and writing your name on it. Then you’ll consider the entire third quarter, from the first day until now, through the lens of the important skills, traits, and goals of this course. Then you’ll assign yourself a category by writing the bolded portion beneath your name:

  • A | Effective | Exemplary, exceptional, exhaustive, extraordinary | 90-100
  • B | Adequate | Expected, methodical, complete, better than average | 80-89
  • C | Limited | Desultory, incomplete, imprecise, average | 70-79
  • D | Inadequate | Perfunctory, erroneous, severely lacking, well below average | 60-69
  • F | Ineffective | Limited success in most categories | 50-59

Finally, you’ll give yourself a two-digit score from that category, write it clearly on the index card, and hand that card in. If you happen to miss class when we do this, do it on your own and put the card aside until you’re back in school.

Now you can read these:

You will receive another two pages from the second document on Monday. We will read the whole thing together very carefully, so that you are prepared for Tuesday, when you will again propose a score for your quarter. At that point, you’ll also justify the score in writing. After that, I’ll be in contact with those of you who need individual help.

Note: Don’t start writing your 250-word justification yet. Plan it, draft it, fill a bunch of pages with thoughts and notes, but don’t write anything or share it with me. You will have the entire period on Tuesday to finish and share these.

Multiple-Choice Questions: Schneller’s “Culture”

Quick Update: While you continue your C&D Symposium elsewhere, you need to finish creating multiple-choice questions for Johanna Schneller’s “A Culture Saturated in Sexism.” Here’s a link to a downloadable copy of the original text:

That will open in Google Drive. You’ve already gotten a link to your period’s MCQ document; check your Drive directory or email inbox for that. Here is a copy of the directions from the email:

Take your multiple-choice work from the last few days — the questions you have been writing for “A Culture Saturated in Sexism” — and transfer them to this document. You’ll be working together, which will take some coordination; you’re all editors, so you’ll need to collaborate to create a single document. Note that you won’t need to create exactly ten questions. There is no minimum or maximum; ten would, however, be impressive. Let me know how it goes.

Be sure to read the directions in the document itself, too. Each period’s work will be edited, revised, and then given to the other periods as a quick quiz on Schneller. Let’s try to finish the first step today.

Progress Reports: Canned Metacognition

Progress reports will be printed and sent home at the end of this week. In the past, I mentioned these arbitrary moments of review in a different light; now that we are fully embracing Kohn and a “degraded” environment, I can shift my tone considerably. (Note: The language related to grade ranges has been struck through; I’ve left it in to remind us of the changes, because we really ought to focus on your learning, not any attached numbers.)

First, note the three questions you have been asked in class to answer on a regular basis. They are posted on the right side of the site; each asks you to elaborate metacognitively or reflectively on your progress. If you have been keeping up with this, you should have more than enough data to work with this week, when you will finish Friday’s work on this:

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ETA: Classification and Division

Overview: You will spend the next few weeks practicing emulation through analysis, abbreviated to ETA writing and nicknamed bishop writing. Like the chess piece, you have some restrictions on the direction you move, but only the limits of the board for distance. We are also leaning on the etymology of the noun: Bishop comes from the Greek episkopos, meaning “watcher or overseer,” and you will oversee all elements of the writing process yourself, using the model texts and tools in this post.

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The Midterm

Your midterm will be a two-hour examination on Tuesday, January 22nd. The time and location will be posted in various places around the building.

Part 1: Questions on Rhetoric and Style

Note that you can complete the two parts of this exam in any order you wish. The first section asks you to respond to about an hour’s worth of questions on rhetoric and style on the following text:

You will be given a copy of the formatted Word document; you should also set aside time to read the article in its original, online format, because one or two of the QORAS will deal with those interactive elements. It’s also an excuse to play a video game in the middle of an English class.

As you annotate the text, refer back to this last post on rhetorical analysis. Focus on the DAMAGES-specific commentary in that post. My goal is not to trick you with esoteric terms or oblique analysis; I want to see if you can read, parse, and react to a complicated text. You can do that, by the way. You only need to slough off this idea that rhetoric and style are about dissection. It’s a kind of vivisection, if you want to use that metaphor; the text is alive and breathing, and if you cut into it too deeply or repeatedly, you will kill it. (That is a terrible metaphor. Let’s move on.)

You will be able to use your copy of Anderson’s article on the day of the exam. You will also be able to use any notes you’ve taken in your compendium. It would be a waste of time to copy over a thousand definitions or terms, after all; this is really about your use of time and resources, and you’ll still have to condense that preparation into a session of timed writing.

Part 2: Self-Directed Synthesis Argument

This is the evolution of the original synthesis-building assignment: You will construct a prompt on a subject of your choosing, and then you will write a response to that prompt on the day of the exam. Click here to load the folder with all of the synthesis-related materials:

And click here to load the two most important documents from that Google Drive folder:

You’ll need to use both in concert to develop an effective prompt. Of course, you also have model prompts and a week’s worth of class time; you’ll be able to bounce ideas off of me, your peers, and previous iterations of the AP exam.

More information:

  • You may write the prompt alone or in a group.
  • Your prompt must have six or more sources. One of those sources must be visual (e.g., a graph or political cartoon).
  • Whether you work alone or in a group, you will write an individual timed response on the day of the exam.
  • A copy of the prompt, whether you wrote it alone or with a group, is due on the day of the exam and must be attached to your timed response.
  • You must write your timed response in its entirety on the day of the exam. The suggested time is 45 minutes to write and 15 minutes to edit and revise.
  • You should not write the response ahead of time; you should, however, plan what you will write.

At the start of Q3, on or around January 28th, you must be ready to defend your writing and prompt-building choices and the process of creating both through metacognition and reflection, respectively. This is not part of the midterm, but you should keep it in mind.

One more thing: Watch this video.

Procedural Updates

Update #1: You have until Monday to finish the optional assignment contained in this post. I posted grades this morning; by now, you’ve hopefully read the feedback from yesterday, looked over your writing, and considered (carefully) the contents of that post. Remember that you only receive the boost to your score if you earn it. At some point over the next few days, I’ll indicate how much your score on the adversarial increased; most of you earned back 50% of the points you didn’t earn the first time, but there were a few people who earned only 25% back, or who earned nothing at all.

Update #2: On Friday, January 11, we will brainstorm subjects for your mock synthesis prompt. Return to this post at any point for a complete rundown of the original parameters. They will remain static for the midterm, except for one obvious change: You have total freedom to choose the subject of your prompt.

You’ll receive a formal overview of the midterm, including point values and deadlines, next week. Until then, you should have the following general shape from your class notes:

  1. An hour’s worth of questions on rhetoric and style for a full-length argument, which you will receive a week in advance
  2. A timed synthesis response to a prompt of your own creation

You’ll have all of next week to read, annotate, plan, and build. This is a test of more than just your analytical and critical thinking skills; it’s a test of your ability to manage your time, utilize your resources, and take ownership of your learning. Keep that in mind.

Po Bronson’s “Learning to Lie” + Notes on Rhetoric

First, a serious mea culpa: When I introduced this essay on Monday, I referred to Po Bronson as “she” during the entire prefatory speech. I don’t really have any explanation for this, except that my immune system is attempting to murder me; serious disorientation tends to play with one’s self-editing. Our next author is a woman, and I got ahead of myself. And if that mistake, careless as it was, doesn’t seem like it deserves to be at the top of this post, know this: The details matter.

(Well, some details matter. Misspelling a word here or there isn’t a big deal; screwing up the gender of the author you’re studying sort of is. More on the distinction between the forest and its trees below.)

Now to the text: We’re using Bronson’s essay, “Learning to Lie,” for two reasons: first, to segue into next quarter’s study of lying as a cultural phenomenon; second, as fodder for midterm practice. You’ll get a formal outline of the midterm when we’re closer to the date; for now, just note the two halves of the exam:

  1. A set of questions on rhetoric and style for a full-length essay; the essay will be given the week before, but the questions will be held until the exam date
  2. A timed synthesis essay written to a prompt of your own creation

Bronson will help you prep for the questions on rhetoric and style. Load the essay through one of the two links below; read carefully, annotating it as you would any text; and then bring your observations and analysis to class on Wednesday. You’ll be able to use the comments section here to ask questions and hold conversations generated by our in-class discussion. You’re also encouraged to use Google Groups to extend our in-class work.

After the jump, you’ll find a brief review of what to look for in a text like this. Here is the essay:

Now to the forest:

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