Language & Composition

Mr. Eure | Brewster High School

Summer Work

First, a General Contract and Conscription

Registration for any advanced English course constitutes a contract by which

  1. you acknowledge that there is summer work due before or on the first day of the next school year;
  2. you take responsibility for finding and understanding the requirements of that summer assignment;
  3. you pledge to meet those requirements in full, by the due date, and to the best of your abilities;
  4. you accept that under no circumstances will you be able to circumvent any of this; and
  5. you accept that you will suffer any and all applicable penalties if you fail in your responsibilities.

In short, the onus is on you to procure and complete the summer assignment, and you are bound to this the moment you are registered for the course. Note also that you are still responsible for any school- or district-wide reading that is assigned.

This contract applies to all students registered for English 9 Advanced, Pre-AP English 10, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, and WCC Composition and Literature.

Summering in Language and Composition:

  1. Read the course website.
  2. Read or listen to the central texts.
  3. Respond by hand in a compendium to each text.
  4. Enter an online conversation with your peers about each text.
  5. Read RJ Palacio’s Wonder.

More details on each task follow.

Task #1: Learn more about this summer assignment, the course, and your teacher by reading through the Language and Composition website. Clarification and further information for the next three tasks will be there. The link will be posted to my BHS website by June 24.

Task #2: Read the central texts, which will be uploaded on June 24 and reposted as an assignment every other week. The connective thread in these works is memory—our understanding of it and relationship to it. In order:

  1. “On Keeping a Notebook,” a personal essay by Joan Didion that was included in her 1968 collection of essays, Slouching Toward Bethlehem. Post available on July 1.
  2. “Remember This,” an informational article by Joshua Foer, from the November 2007 issue of National Geographic. Post available on July 15.
  3. “Funes the Memorious,” a short fictional narrative first published in 1942 by the Spanish writer Jorge Luis Borges. Post available on July 29.
  4. “Always Coming Back Home to You,” a nonfictional narrative by the hip-hop group Atmosphere, from the 2003 album Seven’s Travels. Post available on August 12.
  5. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” an argumentative essay by Nicholas Carr, from the July/August 2008 issue of Atlantic Magazine. Post available on August 26.

Task #3: Take notes on each text as you read. There is no prescribed way for taking these notes, and you are encouraged to experiment with formats that make sense to you and that allow you to explore the texts insightfully. Annotate with a rainbow of highlighters, use Post-Its for key passages, complete a double-entry journal—do whatever you like.  You are only required to do one thing: Write your formative responses in a compendium, which is a composition notebook, not spiral-bound, that looks like this. (You are going to balance your inner technophile and Luddite in this course, hence this handwritten compendium. Google makes its inevitable appearance, too.)

Task #4: Enter the online conversation for each text. You’ll find a more complete set of directions on our website, but the gist of it is this: Leave succinct comments on each post as part of a conversation with your peers. Return to the site periodically to read and reply to new comments.

Task #5: You are also required to read the community text, which is a fictional narrative this time around. It’s called Wonder, it’s by RJ Palacio, and you will receive information about it somewhere else. We’ll fold it into our opening lessons as necessary and appropriate. I’d recommend reading it closer to the start of school, so it will be fresh in your mind. (It’s a YA novel; it should only take you a day or two.)

You will be held accountable for your notes, your participation online, and your memory of all of that reading, which includes the information on the website. As a checklist:

  • Website visited and explored
  • “On Keeping a Notebook” read and responded to
  • Online conversation with peers: “On Keeping a Notebook”
  • “Remember This” read and responded to
  • Online conversation with peers: “Remember This”
  • “Funes the Memorious” read and responded to
  • Online conversation with peers: “Funes the Memorious”
  • “Always Coming Back Home to You” listened to and responded to
  • Online conversation with peers: “Always Coming Back Home to You”
  • “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” read and responded to
  • Online conversation with peers: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

Make sure you have a way to access the Internet over the summer, or let me know now that you need alternative copies of these materials. It is your responsibility to be ready for the start of school. If you are going on vacation, plan around it; the important piece is your final completion/understanding, not necessarily the biweekly deadline. Just be ready when September’s rough beast slouches toward us.