English 11 Syllabus Updates

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Week Eighteen Syllabus Update

Week the Last:


Begin partner world epic presentations. We will begin with Cheyenne and Monica; thereafter, we will ask for volunteers.


Continue world epic presentations.


Finish world epic presentations. Partners need to self-assess using the rubric.

Any time remaining will be used to build our IIP final papers. Remember that if you share your draft with me ahead of time, I will comment on it.


IIP paper drafting/revising/conferencing continues. Please be sure to return all books you have checked out for the IIP.


IIP paper drafting/revising/conferencing continues. Please be sure to return all books you have checked out for the IIP.

Your final draft of the IIP must be shared with me before our finals period, which is Tuesday, May 19, at 12:55 p.m.

Each student will present his/her IIP to the class. You SHOULD NOT simply read your paper to the class: You SHOULD read selected parts of it and tell us about the sources you used and how they contributed to your thinking about your essential question.

When all students have finished, you will write a reflection on the IIP and complete a self-assessment on the rubric sheet.

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Week Seventeen Syllabus Update

Truly speaking, it is not instruction, but provocation, that I can receive from another soul.

                                                   Ralph Waldo Emerson

Week Seventeen (5.4-5.8):


We will be Skyping with our online friends at Santa Fe Indian School. Come prepared with questions for them (and be prepared to answer questions about yourselves/us).

Group epic research time.

Epic Hero Quiz on Thursday. You will be given the same template we've been using, and you will be asked to provide 2 (two) thorough examples of epics to fit each of the characteristics.


Time to work on your group epic presentations and your individual modern epic presentations.


Individual modern epic presentations begin. We will start with volunteers, but all need to be ready to present today. Your presentation needs to be shared with me before class time to speed transitions between presenters.


Complete any remaining modern epic presentations.

Take the epic hero quiz.


We will work on your thesis and your opening for the IIP paper. By the end of class, you should have your thesis note-perfect and your opening at least in a workable version.

A good thesis must be arguable, clear, and limited.

World epic presentations will begin on Monday. We will begin with Cheyenne and Monica, as Monday is Cheyenne's last day. All other groups need to be ready to present on Monday as well.

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Week Sixteen Syllabus Update

“Distraction is a kind of obesity of the mind.”

                                    Matthew Crawford

Week Sixteen (4.27-5.1):


Complete our analysis of the Hero’s Journey. By today, each of you needs to claim a modern work (television show, video game, movie, novel) to analyze using the Epic Hero Characteristics and the Hero’s Journey stages. No duplicates. First come, first serve. We will be presenting your analysis of these texts in our final class week.

We will then assign partners one of the eight world/historical epics listed below to research, analyze according to the Epic Hero’s Characteristics and the Hero’s Journey stages, and present to the rest of the class.

Below are the epic tales you will be researching, reading (in summary form), and presenting:

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Iliad/The Odyssey




El Cid

Saga of the Volsungs

Das Nibelungenlied

Below is the rubric we will be using for this research/presentations:

Epic presentation rubric


We will spend the first half of class analyzing The Lego Movie as extended practice with the Epic Hero Characteristics and the Hero’s Journey stages.

We will use the TodaysMeet link listed below to discuss and analyze as we watch.

TodaysMeet link

The second half of class will be allotted to you and your partner working on the assigned world epic.

Wednesday (shortened day): CHS Community Service Day. No class.


We will spend the first half of class analyzing The Lego Movie as extended practice with the Epic Hero Characteristics and the Hero’s Journey stages.

The second half of class will be allotted to you and your partner working on the assigned world epic.


IIP final paper work. You need to share a document with me by the end of class containing the direct quotations you will be using for the final paper. You must have at least two from every written text source, and you should have at least one from a movie source (more will score higher on the end rubric).

Below is the rubric I will use to assess your final IIP papers:


Your modern epic analysis presentations will begin on Wednesday of next week. We may have some time in class to work on preparing these, but the expectation is that most of this will be done outside of class (as you no longer have IIP reading to do). The rubric for this presentation is similar to the world historical epic presentation, only it is worth 100 points instead of 200.

Modern Epic Analysis Presentation

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Week Fifteen Syllabus Update

“Success is an event. Mastery is a curved-line pursuit.” Amanda Dykes

Week Fifteen (4.20-4.25):

Monday: The Pardoner’s Tale. We will read a version in contemporary language, much as Chaucer would have wanted it. This link is found below:

The Pardoner's Tale

You will be expected to "annotate" in the same Today's Meet forum you used for the previous Chaucer tale.

Then we will watch the animated version, which can be found in last week's update.

Work on project for tomorrow. Look to last week's update for guidelines; this should be a fairly lengthy presentation with detailed explanations of your choice of pilgrimage site, your choice of representative types, and visuals depicting those types.

Tuesday: Present your updated Carroll Tales, Iowa Tales, and America Tales.

Wednesday: Finish any remaining presentations.

Introduction to the epic hero and the hero's journey. Below is the link to our shared notes document--please make a copy and then fill in with your own examples as we are discussing:

epic hero characteristics

If time remains, we will begin a closer look at Joseph Campbell's idea of the Hero's Journey.

We will use the website linked below and add notes and examples in our "epic hero characteristics" file:

The Hero's Journey


Canterbury Tales/terms quiz:

Define “pilgrimage”

Provide a contemporary literal and a contemporary figurative example of a pilgrimage, explaining your reasoning for both

What are the three classes of people represented by the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales?

Provide at least three examples of pilgrims from each class.

 Define “yeoman”

Define “frame story” and explain how The Canterbury Tales fits this definition.

 The Nun’s Priest’s Tale:

What does the fox say, and why should you not listen to him?

 The Pardoner’s Tale:

Translate Radix malorum est cupiditas and explain how the tale illustrates this moral.

 How does the Pardoner’s Tale connect to Martin Luther and his Reformation?

Quiz Link

Continue our work with the Hero’s Journey website. Assign epics for partner presentations.

Below are the epic tales you will be researching, reading (in summary form), and presenting:

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Iliad/The Odyssey




El Cid

Saga of the Volsungs

Das Nibelungenlied

Below is the rubric we will be using for this research/presentations:

Epic presentation rubric

Friday: Works Cited Day for IIP. By the end of class, each of you should have created a complete and flawlessly formatted works cited page for your final IIP paper. This is an assignment, just as your reflections were. Below is a link to a model MLA-formatted works cited page:

Sample MLA Works Cited Page

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Week Fourteen Syllabus Update

Week Fourteen (4.13-4.17):

IIP Reflection Form


Review the Hamlet test. Take this Shakespeare quiz: Shakespeare character quiz

We will watch the amusingly informative “History of English” to prepare us for Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales.

Then we will discuss the concept of “pilgrimage” and how it applies to modern times, both in religious and non-religious contexts.

We will read some background on The Canterbury Tales and discuss its significance.


 We will listen to a bit of the Middle English version of the Prologue to gain a sense of what it sounded like.

I will assign prologue characters to pairs: You are responsible for reading the parts of the prologue that mentions these characters and then for creating a simple slide show that illustrates the following: Who are these characters (some of their professions you will be unfamiliar with and need to look up), how are they presented by Chaucer, and what might they look like visually. We will present these slide shows on Tuesday.


Present slide shows and discuss the characters and the prologue.

 We will read the final lines of the prologue together—778-841.

 Then partners will be responsible for creating a list of representative characters for a modern-day “pilgrimage.”

 Who would represent a cross-section of CHS? (five character types) of Iowa? (eight character types) of America (ten character types).  We will present these on Tuesday of next week.

 Begin “Nun’s Priest Tale.”


 Continue “Nun’s Priest Tale.”

 Watch Animated Versions:


NWEA testing for most of our class periods six and seven. The remaining students should bring work (remember that your final IIP reflection is due tomorrow by the end of class).


Final IIP reflection due by the end of class. The link for the reflection is found at the top of this week’s update.

Rubric for CHS/Iowa/Canterbury Tales Presentations: Pilgrimage rubric
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Week Thirteen Syllabus Update

In the right context, every word is a profanity.

                                       Sherman Alexie

Week Thirteen (4.6-4.10):

Monday: No school.

Tuesday: Return to the Hamlet Anticipation Guide blog response.

1) Respond to any questions asked of you by classmates.

2) Respond to the same two claims from the guide with your Hamlet answer. These answers need specific references to the play—the more specific, the better.

We will then work on our Hamlet text review, using quotations to identify the main events and themes of the play. Our test will combine the terms we noted during our reading/viewing (we will review those tomorrow) with the quotations from our review. That test will be Thursday, thereby allowing you a Eng 11-free Prom Weekend.

“To Prom or not to Prom

That is the question

Whether tis nobler in the mind

To suffer the tweets and whispers

About your prom dress

To sleep? Perchance not.”


Continue with the Hamlet quotation review and add the terms review.

Below are the terms you need to know for the test. You need to not only define the terms, but explain to the fullest extent how the term applies to Shakespeare and/or Hamlet itself.




iambic pentameter

in media res


conflict (internal and external)

Anyone looking for an extra credit opportunity: Memorize eight or more lines of any soliloquy and present it to the class. Talk to me if you are interested.


Hamlet terms and quotations test.

Click on the link below:

Hamlet test


IIP reading and notetaking time. Remember that your next/last IIP reflection is due next Friday, April 17.


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Week Twelve Syllabus Update

If you don’t teach your children to be alone, they’ll only know how to be lonely.

                                  Sherry Turkle

Week Twelve (3.30-4.3):


We will complete a brief self-assessment on our final The Things I Carried essays. Please e-mail me your reflection about what you wrote, why you chose what you did, and why you organized it as you did. In your reflection, include what you consider to be your strongest line. Be sure to include a self-assessed grade at the end of your reflection.

When you have completed this, please view the following versions of Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy. Then post your thoughts about which one you think is best and why in the forum.

Finally, we will return to Hamlet, Act III, Scene iii and Curriculet. For your out-of-class work for this week, please comment on at least two of your classmates' "Things I Carry" essays in the forum.

Tuesday: We will continue Hamlet, both the BBC film version and the text in Curriculet.

Wednesday: We will continue Hamlet, both the BBC film version and the text in Curriculet.

Todaysmeet link: todaysmeet

Thursday: We finish our reading and preliminary viewing of Hamlet. If time allows, we will look at a documentary David Tennant, the actor playing Hamlet in the BBC version, filmed. It makes for a great review of the play and its themes. If time does not allow, we will watch the documentary upon our return from break.

hamlet anticipation guide

Enjoy your break. Remember that we have moved your next IIP reflection from 4.11 to 4.18.

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Week Eleven Syllabus Update

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

            Albert Einstein

Week Eleven (3.23-3.27):

IIP Reflection Link


Some test prep as you prepare for the Iowa Assessment Reading test this week. We will discuss proven test strategies, work a sample passage, and make sure each of you knows where and when your test is. I will also discuss the extra credit offered for those who meet the growth goal on the reading test.

Then we will continue with Hamlet.

Make sure you have shared your first draft of “The Things I Carry” with me by class time today.


I will be proctoring Iowa Assessment Reading tests all day, so you will report to the media center where a substitute will take attendance.

You are to share your “The Things I Carry” draft with at least two of your classmates. Then you should be responding to your classmates using our response protocol. Once you have received comments from your classmates, start revising for the final draft, which is due tomorrow. You need to post your final draft in the forum by class time tomorrow.

You should also respond to at least two SFIS students on that forum. Ideally, you should respond to students with whom you have already built a relationship online.

Wednesday (shortened classes): We will continue our work with Hamlet, both the play and film versions.

Breaking News!


I will be proctoring Iowa Assessment Reading tests all day, so you will report to the media center where a substitute will take attendance.

Because of this, we will be switching our usual Thursday and Friday routines. Although your IIP reflection is still due by the end of the class Friday, your class time to work on it will be today. Use it well.

Friday: We will continue our work with Hamlet, both the play and film versions.

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Week Ten Syllabus Update

Virtue is a state of war, and to live in it we have always to combat with ourselves.

                                                   Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Week Ten (3.16-3.20):

Monday (shortened classes): We will complete an extended anticipation guide to set us up for Hamlet. If any time remains, we will begin watching our pre-Hamlet background documentaries. Outside of class, you should be working on your own personal “Things I Carry” essay, using the brainstorming we did (much longer ago than is optimal, I admit). Look at the responses in the forum from the SFIS students; I will also post my own response there. These are due Thursday.

Hamlet Anticipation Guide


PBS Hamlet David Tennant

Tuesday: Reminder that your "America" papers are due today. You should have already shared your work in progress, so you do not need to share again.

We will all join Curriculet, an online site we will use to augment our Hamlet reading and discussion.


We will continue to watch our pre-Hamlet background documentaries. Several of the terms for our next terms quiz will come from these documentaries. I will also set up a TodaysMeet backchannel for our viewing and responding. Continue working outside of class on your “Things I Carry” essay.

Curriculet link

Hamlet background backchannel

Wednesday: Wrap up any remaining pre-Hamlet activities. Begin Act I of the play.

Thursday (shortened classes): Make sure your “Things I Carry” essay is posted to the forum. We will respond to these on Monday, both those of your classmates and those of SFIS students.Stirke that--share them with me in Google Drive so we can read and respond and revise next week before posting. We will continue with Act I of Hamlet.

Friday: No school. For any of us.

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Special Flu Update (Flupdate?)

Apologies for my extended absence.

Yesterday: Flu wins by technical fall in the third period.

Today: Flu wins by fall in first period.

Flu had me like:

I should be awake and (semi) coherent during class time, so I may well be commenting on your essential question drafts.

UPDATE: I've looked at the files you've shared with me. Some of you appear to have done little to nothing in your class time yesterday. If you are writing your draft elsewhere, you need to put it in the shared file. I left comments in the files of the worst offenders, and I will crawl from my sick bed tomorrow to wreak my flu-ish vengeance upon you.

If you have specific questions or parts you want me to comment on, let me know by highlighting and/or commenting in the Google document. Don't worry about a due date--it's practice. Which doesn't mean your failure to make use of class is not more frustrating to me than having the flu.

If you feel comfortable with where your draft is, use your time to get a head start on your IIP reflection for tomorrow. I trust you will use your time wisely.

I realize this week has been suboptimal--again, apologies.

                             "...the new absence   
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind   

While there is still time."
Philip Larkin

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Week Nine Syllabus Update

I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me.                             

       Winnie the Pooh

Week Nine (3.9-3.13):

IIP Text Reflection Link

Monday: Work on our “What is America?” essential question responses. Consider these a graded practice for your end of semester essential question responses. We will review/learn MLA formatting and citations as part of this. Final drafts must be at least three full pages, double spaced, 12 pt. type, MLA format incorporating at least four sources from the works we read and viewed this semester (only one can be a film).

The final drafts of the Vietnam solider image narrative are due today. We will self-assess them at the beginning of class.

Link to my Essential Question response:

America Essential Question

Purdue OWL

Tuesday: Continue our work on the “What is America?” essential question responses.

Wednesday (shortened classes): Continue our work with the “What is America?” "Final" drafts are due tomorrow.

Thursday: Begin our Shakespeare background with various video sources. We will also all join Curriculet, which we will be using while we read Hamlet in class.

Friday: Your next IIP text reflection is due by the end of the class period. Next week we will, in addition to beginning Hamlet, also write our own “Things We Carry” essay to share with our SFIS friends.

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Week Eight Syllabus Update

Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived.

                 W.B. Yeats

Week Nine (3.3-3.7):


Complete remaining viewing of Into the Wild; we will continue to make use of the TodaysMeet backchannel to discuss during the film. We will return to work in class on our “Transcendentalism or Nah?” forum response. This is where you should make use of your Transcendentalism notes and the TodaysMeet forum. Post your finished response in the forum no later than Wednesday. This should be your longest response of any of our blog posts thus far.


Introduce The Things They Carried, as we jump forward in time. We will read the title story, and then write our own as we comment on those written by SFIS students.


Vietnam Quick Background

Vietnam soldier images

My Vietnam Image Narrative


Make sure your “Transcendentalism or nah?” post is posted by class time. Continue with our The Things They Carried soldier narrative writing—your draft is due by class time tomorrow.


Your Transcendentalist videos or Animotos are due today. You will present and explain them in class, much as we did with the America videos/Animotos. Continue with The Things They Carried as we peer review the narratives and (time allowing) begin reading the title story. Update: We're ahead of schedule, so remaining time after our presentations will be used to revise your soldier narratives--I have responded to all of them.


IIP book/text three work time. Remember that you should be taking notes and tagging direct quotations to use in next week’s reflection and, eventually, your end-of-semester paper.

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Week Seven Syllabus Update


The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.
          Herbert Agar

Week Seven (2.23-2.27):

IIP Text Reflection Link

Monday: A look at cinematic depictions of some of Transcendentalism’s beliefs as we watch Peter Weir’s Dead Poet’s Society and then Into the Wild, based on Jon Krakauer’s book about Christopher McCandless.

We will make use of a TodaysMeet backchannel as we watch, looking for examples of Transcendentalism in both films (spoiler alert: there are many).


This should provide you with ample time to be reading your second book for the IIP project.

I hope that SFIS responses to our introduction forum will be posted, so we can then use some class time to read and respond.

Below is the assignment sheet for the Transcendentalism video:


Tuesday: Continue with Dead Poet’s Society and our backchannel discussion.

Wednesday (shortened day):  Begin Into the Wild. Continue our backchannel discussion.

Thursday: Continue Into the Wild. Continue our backchannel discussion. I will set the backchannel for a month, so you may use it as a resource for our Transcendentalism response.

Friday: Your second written text reflection is due by the end of class. The reflection form is linked at the top of this week’s update—please make a copy and share your reflection with me. 

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Week Six Syllabus Update

We should try to be the parents of our future rather than the offspring of our past.

-Miguel de Unamuno

Week Six (2.16-2.20):


Irving and Hawthorne revisited. Choose a second story from one of the two authors. If you choose “Rip Van Winkle,” I will also offer you the option of piloting our use of Curriculet, an online reading/annotation site that we will definitely be using for some of our upcoming works. These stories and their annotations (whatever form they may take) are due by Thursday. You will have whatever time remains Tuesday to read/respond in class as well.



Terms quiz two. Similar in format to the previous quiz (some of you should study more/differently so your score is not similar to the first quiz). You will be asked to provide examples and connect terms to the readings we have done. The terms on the quiz are listed below:














link to terms quiz


backchannel link

Introducing Transcendentalism. Remember that your annotations for the Irving/Hawthorne story are due tomorrow.

Link for Transcendentalist background

Transcendentalism notes


Responding to SFIS introductory forum responses.

Continue with Transcendentalism. An exercise in thinking about conformity and nonconformity. Continue with our readings of Thoreau and Emerson, and partner notes in the Transcendentalism note document


Time to read and take notes on book two of your IIP.  Remember that those notes should be found in our shared IIP document, complete with direct quotations. Your next reflection on the finished text is due at the end of class next Friday, February 27.

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Week Five Syllabus Update

We learn, as the thread plays out, that we belong less to what flatters us than to what scars.

--Stanley Kunitz

Week Five (2.9-2.13):

Below is the link to the Google Document to use for your book reflection due at the end of Friday's class. Please copy and then reshare your copy with me.

Text Source One Reflection IIP


Back to the forest and the devil and early Puritans. We will have both an interactive activity and a blog post to prepare us to read Washington Irving's The Devil and Tom Walker.

Here are the prompts for the blog post:

I decide and control how successful I am.

Material wealth is most people’s number one goal and rightly so.

Then we will actually begin reading in class. For the blog post, you will need to read and ask questions of two other students outside of class time (before tomorrow's class).


Continue/complete our reading of The Devil and Tom Walker.

Watch The Devil and Homer Simpson.

Introduce our shared class blog with Santa Fe Indian School in New Mexico. Write our introductions to Ms. Guerin's juniors at SFIS. 


Blog post post-Tom Walker. 

Introduce Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Begin The Minister's Black Veil.




A helpful powerpoint on symbolism, allegory, and parable: SymbolismandAllegory.pptx

Continue our reading of The Minster's Black Veil.

Discuss options of next story, either another by Irving or another by Hawthorne.


Reflection for your first book is due by the end of class today.

The link for this reflection is posted at the top of this week's syllabus update. Please make a copy and share with me.

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Week Four Syllabus Update

Evil is like a shadow - it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a

lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight

it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or

physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must

shine light on it.

                             -Shakti Gawain

Week Four (2.2-2.6):

Monday: Your “America” video/Animoto needs to be shared with me by class time. We will watch/discuss the videos/Animotos in class.

Then we will introduce Hector St. John de Crevecoeur and his famous “What is an American” and look at a brief excerpt in our textbook from his Letters From an American Farmer.

de Crevecoeur bio

We will use de Crevecouer’s work to frame some quick archival research into what “ordinary” Americans said about themselves when interviewed in the early part of the 20th century.

Link to site:

life histories

student guide

On your own or with a partner, you will be writing biographies based on these oral accounts. These biographies will be due and presented on Wednesday. We will have some additional time to work on this tomorrow.

Below is the link to a model student biography. Yours should be AT LEAST this length.

model student biography


Continue with “What is an American?” biography project.


6th period Wednesday will be the class scheduling meeting for the juniors, so our class will not begin until that meeting is over.

Present our “What is an American?” biographies.

Introduce Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne (distant relation of Judge Hathorne from The Crucible fame), two of America’s best known early authors.

We will begin with “The Devil and Tom Walker,” and we will have pre-reading prompts and an activity before we read.

Thursday: We will present our Fakebook pages from The Crucible to the class. Continue our work with “The Devil and Tom Walker.” If time allows, we will also look at The Simpson’s “The Devil and Homer Simpson” (if time does not allow, we will watch this on Monday).

Friday: IIP time. Remember that your first book response is due next Friday, and in addition to the final reflection you will complete, you also need to be taking notes in our shared document. I will also talk about our class sharing with an English 11 class at Santa Fe Indian School in New Mexico.

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Week Three Syllabus Update

 Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

                                                              - Samuel Beckett

Week Three (1.26-1.30):

Remember that your “America” videos and poem audio are due on Monday, February 2. Ask for help or clarification if you need it.

Link to the form for your first IIP text (the film), due by end of class on Friday:

IIP Film Response/Reflection

Monday: The Crucible Act IV. But first, the completion of our blog responses about our essential questions for the IIP. I will put you in small groups and have you verbally respond to blog posts, including a question for the author. Then I want the authors to respond online to their own posts, answering the questions asked by the rest of the group.

TuesdayViewing Act IV. A post-Crucible return to the anticipation guide.


Wednesday (shortened day): Beginning our Fakebook accounts for The Crucible. You and your partner will select a major character and demonstrate your understanding of not only that character, but also the play itself and its major themes, including the historical connections we worked on in class.


Thursday: Our first terms quiz. The terms are found below:








spoken irony

dramatic irony

situational irony

You will be asked to define and give examples of each term, and where appropriate, to provide examples from what we've read together in class.

Link for terms quiz

Friday: Your response to the first text in our IIP, a film, is due by the end of class time today. I will share the form you should use with you at the beginning of the week. You should then make a copy of the form, share that copy with me, and put your thoughts in there. (This is slightly different than with our written texts, where we want to see ONGOING note taking in the IIP document we are already sharing.)

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Week Two Syllabus Update

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

                               Samuel Johnson

Week Two (1.19-1.23):

I advise you strongly to look at Friday's information for due dates for parts of the Independent Inquiry Project (IIP).

Your "America" videos (with your poem as audio) are due 2.2

Those of you who wish to access the Animoto account should use my e-mail (wpolking@gmail.com) and the password coleisawesome.

The results of your voting on the "America" poems:

1. Derrie Ridgely

2. Katie Ryan

3. Hannah Patterson

Fourteen (!) different people received votes, which shows the range of your work and also how subjective poetry can be.


Return to The Crucible. We will begin augmenting our "performance" with a look at the film version.

We will use the TodaysMeet backchannel listed below to discuss as we watch the film:



Continue with The Crucible. We will augment our understanding by looking at Sinners in the Hand of An Angry God, a classic sermon by Jonathan Edwards.


We will interrupt our Crucible-ing to make sure we are all set on texts for the IIP. Bring what you have already selected so you can use your time to read as I meet with students.


Continue with The Crucible

Friday: Independent Inquiry Project Day. Make sure to bring your book(s) and any questions you have from your reading. I am setting the following as due dates throughout the semester:

30 January: Movie

13 February: First book

27 February: Second book

13 March: Third book

27 March: Nonfiction source

10 April: Other source

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Week One Revisited Syllabus Update

I always find it more difficult to say the things I mean than the things I don't.

             W. Somerset Maugham

Week One Revisited (1.12-1.16):


We will look at three poems addressing America:

Walt Whitman's classic "I Hear America Singing," Langston Hughes' response to Whitman in the poem "I, Too," and Angela de Hoyos' much later response "To Walt Whitman."

We will also look at short biographical/literary documentaries of Whitman and Hughes, and complete a visual literacy exercise involving a classic "etching" of Whitman.

All three of these short poems speak of a vision of America. We will annotate and discuss to deepen our understanding of them, and then we will use one of them (your choice) as a model to write our own poem about our own American experience.

The first draft of that poem needs to be shared with me by class time on Wednesday.


Introduction of the Independent Inquiry Paper/Project. This is the large semester-long project that counts as your semester test grade. By Friday, I want you to have a choice (or perhaps two choices if you are uncertain) of your essential question for this project. Then we can start thinking about texts.


Introduction to The Crucible, Arthur Miller's play from the middle of the twentieth century that uses the Salem Witch Trials to make a statement about the McCarthy Hearings and the Red Scare. We will spend some time investigating the history involved, both of the Salem Witch Trials and the Red Scare. Some of this will involve you quickly researching, some will involve looking at documentary evidence.

salem witch trial source


Reminder that you need to share the first draft of your "America" poem by class time today--do so using Google Documents. We will use the same response protocol we used for blogging to respond to first drafts. Remember that the point of peer review is to make the final draft better. I will also respond to each poem with my comments Wednesday evening. The final draft of your "America" poem is due by class time on Friday. I will create a forum so we can read all of our poems.

We will then return to whatever remains of our pre-reading for The Crucible

Red Scare

Almost ready--our final step is a brief anticipation guide to get you thinking not just about the concept of America but also about major themes of the play. Please follow the link: Crucible Anticipation Guide



My hope is that we are able to begin The Crucible in class today. We will augment our reading with some stagecraft (stagecraft, not witchcraft) and a look at the most recent film version of the play (starring the magisterial Daniel Day-Lewis).

Witchcraft was hung, in History,

But History and I

Find all the Witchcraft that we need

Around us, every Day—

Emily Dickinson, #1583


Remember that you need to have your final draft "America" poem posted to our forum by class time today. We will take some time to read all the poems and vote on our "Best of Show."

(You also need to have your choices for essential questions for the independent inquiry paper ready for today.)

We have one remaining step with our "America" poems--adding images to them. Using either video (if you are comfortable editing a short video) or Animoto (I will give you access to my educator account), you need to create images to accompany your poem. We'll talk more about this in class, including a reasonable due date.

We will continue our reading/viewing/thinking of The Crucible.

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Syllabus Update Week One

Welcome to the fringe section of English 11. I'm excited about this experiment in reading, writing, and thinking. I'm also excited about the syllabus I finalized over break.

I am attaching an electronic version of that syllabus below:


I strongly recommend you save this and all such support files digitally so you do not need to constantly scroll back and try to find them on our syllabus update page.

At the end of each week (or over the weekend if things get crazy), I will post the syllabus update for the next week. Especially as this is the first iteration of this class under my lead, our syllabus will be fluid. As juniors, you should all be responsible enough to use the online resources available to you, and indeed I will hold you responsible for all information posted on the syllabus updates.

Week One (1.7-1.9):


We will look at the syllabus, and indeed use it in class to start our blogging protocols.

For all of our blogging, whether it be from general prompts or reading prompts, we will use the 3 Cs of response: Compliment, Connect, and Continue the Conversation. (Okay, that might be 4 Cs. Whatever.)

Compliment: Point out good/interesting things about the post. This could be word choice, a strong sentence, some deep thinking, examples of voice...many possibilities. But it must always be SPECIFIC. Without specific feedback, compliments to writing do nothing to improve future writing.

Connect: Connect to what you just read. Maybe a personal connection, maybe a text connection, maybe a world connection, maybe some mixture of all three.

Continue the Conversation: Think about real-life conversations (or at least real-life conversations before we all buried our heads in phones). The best way to continue a conversation is to ask a good question. Each response to someone else's post should end with a thoughtful, open-ended question.

After we test drive the blog, we will enter into our first essential question: What is America to me?


We will work on our first "official" blog post and responses. Our first prompt comes from Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. He makes this interesting claim: "The Internet makes dumb people dumber and smart people smarter." We will respond to his claim online and with actual (gasp) verbal discussion.

We will continue with our first essential question and, time allowing, some poems to help us in addressing it.


Decoding America and decoding poetry. Using the models to sing our own America.

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