Posts Tagged ‘summer reading blog’

Summer Reading Draft for 09-10

April 20, 2009

I need your feedback!  What am I overlooking?  Or is this just as bad as what I’m trying to leave behind like a cat with incontinence on a brand new rug in a brand new house?

Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition
Summer Reading/Writing 2009

N.B. The 2009/2010 AP English Lit Course Description published by College Board indicates that this course “engages students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature. Through the close reading of selected texts, students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. As they read, students consider a work’s structure, style, and themes as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone.” Additionally, “such reading should be accompanied by thoughtful discussion and writing about those books in the company of one’s fellow students.” Therefore, I am trying something new this summer.

Because some universities ask all their students to read over the summer, and because some universities ask their writing students (including this writing student) to post blog entries affiliated with course work, and because threaded discussions are a College Board suggested discussion method, we will blog our summer reading responses this summer.

The blog enables us to discuss readings and respond to prompts with greater immediacy than waiting until August, and it enables us to actually discuss the summer reading – admittedly and ashamedly — something my classes have not always done. Some blog discussion will be arranged by the instructor, but students ought not to wait for instructor postings. The purpose is to exchange ideas and to guide each other through the literature.

Our blog is on blogger. Our blog is restricted. I need to invite you, so I need you to send me an e-mail. Once I receive your e-mail, you will receive your invitation. E-mail your e-mail addresses to: mcoffee@phm.k12.in.us. Our address is: http://phsaplitsummerreading.blogspot.com.

Reading Requirements: Over the course of the summer, actively read Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, and Jean Anouilh’s Becket. The texts ought to be read in that order, and I have to be heavy handed about the order to have some sense of – well – order about this whole thing. While it’s an experiment we have to have some rules.

Writing Requirements: As indicated above, there will be some points of discussion arranged by the instructor, but I want to be tied to my computer about as much as you do. But before we get down to the task, let me remind you of two matters. 1) The ideas in blog responses are NOT to be borrowed from any outside source(s); all work is expected to be original to the writer. The beauty of the blog is that we have each other to lean on instead of SparkNotes, PinkMonkey, or what have you. 2) Composition of texts must occur in a word processing program, then you save that text to your flash drive (or other similar device), and copy/paste into blogger.

§ For Tess, you are expected to blog three times – divide the novel into thirds – making sure to respond to the end of the novel. Each blog entry should address one or more of the following notions in at least 250 words – What is Thomas Hardy’s purpose and tone? How does he create that purpose and tone? How does diction, syntax, topic, character development, use of setting, imagery, and etc. help Hardy fulfill his purpose? In other words, what is Hardy doing, and how is he doing it?

§ For Murder, you are expected to blog once, when you have finished consuming the play. Read it, mark it, digest it. In at least 250 words, respond to the play in its entirety. You are invited to consider the notions of purpose, tone and style, but more than anything I want you to respond to the play in a way that makes sense.

§ For Becket, you are expected to blog once, when you have finished consuming the play. Read it, mark it, digest it. In at least 250 words, respond to the play in its entirety. You are invited to consider the notions of purpose, tone and style, but more than anything I want you to respond to the play in a way that makes sense.

§ Then, for Murder and Becket together, you are expected to blog a response to both pieces – as they are related. In at least 250 words, respond to the plays in their entirety. You are invited to consider the notions of purpose, tone and style, but more than anything I want you to respond to the plays in a way that illuminates us and them and you.

§ Finally, comment at least once using at least 250 words on a peer’s response or a prompt from me related to Tess, and comment at least once using at least 250 words on a peer’s response to either Murder or Becket. Can you respond more than once? Absolutely.

Your responses must be thoughtful, supported by references to the text, and not mere summary.

Comment on Summer Reading

March 25, 2009

An anonymous poster (always curious — as I can only think of a minimal number of reasons one would wish to remain anonymous on a post about summer reading) asked the following:

Would students be able to read the responses posted by their peers? This could create a plethora of problems. First off, many students are self consious about their work, so they could be very hesitant about posting. Second, some students are lazy, so they may just look at other students posts and use them to write their papers. Third, even if these students happen to not be lazy, they could be still influenced by the other posts, hindering their creativity. Therefore, I believe that either the posts should be blocked until the due date is past. That way, students could look at other peoples thoughts only after they have turned in their own.

Rather than comment on the comment, I think a direct response in a post will best serve the dialogue.

Yes, students would be able to read responses posted by their peers.

Believe me when I say, I recognize a student’s self-consciousness; however, a student needs to recognize that his work, regardless of what he chooses as a career, will be public. If that student chooses university level course work at any point in his life, then I can almost guarantee that student’s writing will become public — for every writing course I took at an undergraduate and graduate level required copies of individual papers to be made and distributed. A colleague has informed me his child’s intro comp course at the University has included a blog requirement, and I’m just trying to get my students ready.

As for students’ laziness, I recognize that too. Been there. Been that way. Might they use their peers’ writing to write their own papers? What’s to stop them from e-mailing their papers to one another if we don’t blog? Essentially, I want to move from papers for the summer reading component anyway. I just want to try to guide the thinking and discourse and have a way to be in touch with my students over the course of the summer as we gear up for the fall. At present students succumb to SparkNotes as an aide to their writing if not in lieu of their reading anyway. This way, I’m a bit more involved in the conversation.


As for the final concern about a student’s creativity, I think some students need that extra assistance. Current students, for instance, would not have necessarily caught — on their own — the moment in Henry IV, Part I when Hal breaks out of prose and speaks in poetry to Falstaff to which Falstaff responds after Hal’s departure in a short poetic soliloquy beginning with the words, “strange words.” They got it, and — frankly — I got it, only after class discussion. Similarly, some got, and some did not, the moment in Henry IV, Part I when Hotspur refers to Hal in a parody of the Greek epic stock epithet as: “The nimble-footed madcap Prince of Wales” (IV, i).


In short, I want this to serve as merely a tool for discussion purposes. The question is, how to do that?

 


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