Thursday, October 19, 2017

HW 10/19: Using "Level-2" Vocab Words: Figurative Language

So, we’ve dwelt a little on how writing in the “active voice” can infuse our writing with specific, active vocabulary-verbs.  See what I did there?J

Here’s another place where we can tap into our pre-existing vocabulary banks: using terms figuratively. You don’t need any really flashy vocab words to do this, either (although if you can use flashy words figuratively, so much the better!).  All you really need to do is consider a whole set of words, such as “sports terms” or “war imagery” as fair game for us to use out of context (figuratively, not literally). 

Like this:

WAR: battlefield              reconnaissance               sortie                    shock troops                     blitz
             commando                         raid                        soldier                  commander                percussive                       land mines                battle lines            parley                 secret     weapon                  surrender                     ambush                                fortress                                castle                    bunker                 trenches

Then use one or more of these words in place of a less energetic simple term:

Before: Despite his desire to kill the monster at once, Victor goes with the monster to its hut on the glacier. 

After: Despite his desire to kill the monster at once, Victor agrees to parley with the monster at its hut on the glacier. 

That’s it!  It’s not literally a parley (where the generals pause for discussion before a battle), but it is a temporary truce, so I think I can use it figuratively.  Remember: the goal here is not simply to use big words to try to sound sophisticated; rather, the goal is to be precise.  Sometimes figurative language conveys exactly what you mean to say.  Good luck! --Mr. G. 

Assignment: Come up with three “categories” (like “WAR” above) that you can use to brainstorm terms.  Get a bunch of them down, even simple ones.  ANY category can work!  (Hyperbole?  Let’s see.)  Then, after you do your brainstorming, use a few of the terms in phrases or sentences (you may write about Frankenstein, or not … up to you … any practice is good practice at this point, I think).  

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

HW 10/18: Using Active Verbs

Knowing and using a rich variety of vocabulary words is an essential component of confident, skillful, precise written expression.  I believe that you already know a great many "level-2" (and beyond!) vocabulary words.  Furthermore, I am not convinced that studying new lists of vocab words would necessarily be the most effective, efficient way for us to improve our writing--not until we are at least using the words we already know!  So, here is another idea: how about if we focus on a few places where it makes sense to use upgraded, specific language?  Perhaps we can train ourselves to anticipate using certain types of words in specific places to convey precise ideas?!  Sounds intriguing to me.  :)

The first place we should consider using "level-2" vocabulary is in featuring ACTIVE verbs.  Here's a practice assignment.  I have taken the liberty of changing all of the writer's nice active verbs to be vague and passive.  

Directions: First, locate all of the underlined verbs in the opening paragraph from John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men; those are the vague, passive verbs that I have inserted.  Next, replace them with more active, vivid verbs.  Finally, compare your choices to Steinbeck’s to see how you measure up with the master-writer himself!
Chapter 1
A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River gets close to
the hillside bank and is deep and green. The water is warm too,
for it has passed twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight
before reaching the narrow pool. On one side of the river the golden
foothill slopes go up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains,
but on the valley side the water is lined with trees--willows fresh
and green with every spring, having in their lower leaf junctures
the debris of the winter's flooding; and sycamores with mottled,
white, recumbent limbs and branches that go over the pool. On the
sandy bank under the trees the leaves are deep and so crisp that a
lizard makes a great skittering if he is among them. Rabbits get
out of the brush to be on the sand in the evening, and the damp flats
are covered with the night tracks of 'coons, and with the spread
pads of dogs from the ranches, and with the split-wedge tracks of deer

that are there to drink in the dark.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

AP Writing Prompt: Timed 40-Min Essay

MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN WRITING PROMPT                                        Date: 10/12/2017
Suggested Time – 40 Minutes (Note: if you are completing this essay outside of class, please set a timer)

Oftentimes in literature a character faces a crisis of belief, a moment in which his faith in personal of institutional values is sorely threatened.  This critical moment may result in a character’s overcoming these doubts and reaffirming beliefs, or succumbing to these qualms and abandoning them.

In a well-organized essay based on Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, illustrate how this critical moment either strengthens or dissolves the character’s faith in personal or institutional values, and show how his reaction to this crisis contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.   

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Multiple-Choice Practice and Reflections

AP Multiple-Choice questions are tough, but you know who else is tough--you.  [cue Rocky theme music] Remember, this isn’t a one day battle, it’s a year-long fight to the finish.  Your first day in the trenches might have been a bruising one, but you know what they say?  Rome wasn’t conquered in a day! (what’s that?  … it was?  … whoops, wrong analogy … Rome wasn’t built in a day).    Right.  Ok.  [cue the Bob the Builder theme music] We’re building a … house here … a house of awesome.  And we’re just now laying the foundation.  Each question you learn how to do is like learning a new skill.  Today you learn plumbing, tomorrow roofing, and so on.  So, let’s get in there and build, build, build.  J

Peace, flowers, freedom, happiness,
Mr. G.

1.       Read p. 100-104 in Preparation for the AP English Literature & Composition Examination, by Dr. Richard Vogel.   
2.       Correct your answers. 
3.       Read all of the explanations.
4.       For each question you got wrong, write a short reflection on:
a.       the type of question, as you understand it
b.      the logic Dr. Vogel presents about how to get the answer right
c.       where you think you went wrong

d.      what strategies you might employ the next time you encounter a question like this.  

Thursday, September 28, 2017

HW: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Our next novel is an amazing, thoughtful, complex tale written by a young woman in the early part of the nineteenth century.  In reading this novel, we will also consider elements of Mary Shelley's biography and her place in literary history to help us in our quest for the MOWAAW.  We will not be creating online discussions or double-entry journals this time; however, I would very much encourage you to use the active and critical reading skills we have been practicing while you read this novel.

In the end, I would like to use this novel to work with you on a formal paper--how to question, how to go back and do the close reading necessary to gather quotes and evidence in the pursuit of a thesis, how to develop said thesis, how to organize an analytical essay, and how to calibrate your levels of specific details to the requirements of AP Lit. 

I hope that sounds like a good plan.  Ready to get this started?  Here we go ... :)

Reading Schedule:
(Note: these are assignment dates ... please be ready for classwork, discussions, and reading quizzes each day)

9/28 Letter I, II, III, IV
9/29 Ch. I-V

10/2 Ch. VI-VIII
10/3 Ch. IX-XII
10/4 Ch. XIII-XVI
10/5 Ch. XVII-XX
10/6 Ch. XXI-end

Friday, September 22, 2017

Their Eyes: Essential Literary Synopsis

Well done!  We've arrived at the ending of Their Eyes Were Watching God and have had a chance to discuss some of the elements leading us toward the MOWAAW ("meaning of [the] work as a whole").  We have traced Janie's personal journey from innocence to experience, from blossoms and springtime to chasing dreams on the horizon and--perhaps--to a character at peace with herself and love and her dream and her soul.  Quite a story!  Don't overlook Janie's ability to reflect on her life in her own words, in her own way--through her own voice.  Zora Neale Hurston is widely regarded as having established a way for this type of novel to be written.  Just as Janie does not "plead" in her courtroom scene, so Hurston does not apologize for her characters' flaws and humanity any more than she does for the culture and traditions of the world in which they live.  It is an open, honest, challenging, complex, deeply human novel.  I sincerely hope you liked this one, and that you have found it valuable to have to look closely at all of those intriguing quotes.  I am very impressed with your work so far--I hope you allow yourselves to be impressed too.  --Mr. G. :)

Friday 9/22 HW: Please complete an Essential Literary Synopsis for Their Eyes.