Friday, September 27, 2013

Preparing for writing Q2 essay on satire...

To prepare for Monday's in-class rhetorical analysis (Q2) essay on satire use the following resources...

1. a past prompt calling for a rhetorical analysis of satire
2009 Q2 on satire (the prompt and the reading)
(Scroll through the Q1 prompt and documents to get to Q2)

2. examples of effective, adequate, and ineffective rhetorical analyses of satire
2009 Q2 on satire (rubric, student responses, and scoring comments)

3. rhetorical analysis vocabulary (including satirical techniques) & general academic vocabulary related to satire
Find the words here.

4. consider how you'll manage your time on Monday

Q2 Process.

1. Analyze the prompt:
What is it asking you to do?
What does it say about purpose and what does it want you to say about purpose
What does it want you to say about how rhetorical strategies contribute to the purpose?

2. Read & annotate text with prompt in mind.

3. Create a plan for how you will organize your response: a body paragraph for each strategy that contributes to the purpose? or, a paragraph for each section (or beginning, middle, and end) of the passage?

4. Write an opening. Take a look at strong sample essays for examples of effective openings. (Some students leave blank lines and write the opening after completing the essay.)

5. Write a clear statement responding to the prompt at the end of the first paragraph. This is your thesis or central claim. The statement/thesis/claim will include...
a bold, insightful assertion about the purpose (or whatever aspect of the purpose the prompt wants you to focus on)
& a clear, precise statement of the strategies (techniques, devices, language choices) used to convey the purpose (or particular aspect of purpose the prompt wants you to focus on)

6. Develop and support the central statement/thesis/claim with well organized body paragraphs. Include... 
            each strategy you will write about
            how each strategy contributes to the purpose
            evidence of how the strategy contributes to the purpose
            explanation of how the evidence

7. Write a conclusion that returns convincingly to the overall idea and perhaps even suggests why your analysis is significant. (It is more important to develop and support your analysis than to write a lengthy conclusion.)

8. Re-read your essay to find errors and places that lack clarity.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Devil's Dictionary: Extending the Discussion

Analyze how Ambrose Bierce uses rhetorical strategies--particularly elements of satire--to convey his worldview in The Devil's Dictionary.

In response to the prompt you wrote some bold, insightful assertions (also called claims and thesis statements). Then, you dug up supporting evidence to support your assertion. Then, you presented your assertions and supported them with evidence in a class discussion. You built on each other's ideas by expanding and refining each other's assertions and by presenting new evidence and new explanations of the evidence. Well done.

Now, in the comment box below present any of the analytical insights and support that you did not have an opportunity to share during class. You can present your own work. You can respond to what other people said in class or to what other people have written on the blog. Show that you have thought deeply about Bierce's satirical argument and the way he conveys that argument.

I'm enjoying your insights about the text as a whole and your explanations of particular passages. Keep digging and keep thinking.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Satirical Dictionary for GHS

In the comment box below type in a revised version of your satirical definition. (New and improved! Revised for super-sized satire!)

Also, include a standard definition for comparison.

Finally, write an explanation: What point are you hoping to make with your satire? How have you used satirical strategies to create an effective satire?

Due by C-block tomorrow (Wednesday, September 25)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

We're now going to apply what we've learned about satire by studying "A Modest Proposal" to another satirical literary work: The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce.

What is it? Go here to find out.

Where's the text? Go here to get it.

What I'd like you to do before class time on Monday (9/23) is pick five (5)* word entries from Bierce's satirical dictionary that no one else has commented on yet. In the comment box copy a dictionary definition and copy Bierce's satirical definition. Then explain how Bierce satirizes a particular target by deviating from the standard definition.

Try to figure out Bierce's target and how he uses particular strategies to satirize that target. Does Bierce use any of the satirical strategies we've discussed, including irony, satirical inversion (or reversal), understatement (meiosis, litotes), exaggeration (hyperbole), sarcasm, absurd incongruity, and asserting a position by pretending not sweep aside that position (apophasis/paralipsis)?

Explaining satire (like explaining a joke) is difficult, so I'd rather you risk explaining too much than risk not explaining enough.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift

Here's the text of "A Modest Proposal" with helpful footnotes. (The footnotes were added by an organization called "readthinkwrite".)

Consider the SOAPSToneS elements of discourse:
speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, subject, tone, style.

Take SOAPSTone notes*. (Identify and explore the significance of speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, subject, and tone in the text. "Explore the significance" means write several thoughtful sentences that interpret the text and make direct references to the text.) Bring your notes (in sentence form) to class tomorrow.

* WARNING: Stay on your toes, so to speak. Be careful not to take speaker, purpose, and tone at face value. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pet Words: What Do the Words We Use and Love Reveal about Us?

Click here to read "Pet Words" which was posted today by Brad Leithauser in the New Yorker online.

Read and take notes. Write a crisp (100 word or so) summary to show that you understand what Leithauser is saying and jot down some things you find interesting about how he says it.(Think about words and sentences and paragraph organization. Think about anything that interests you about how it is written.) Bring these notes to class on Tuesday.

Then, respond to one of the following prompts in the comment box below:

1) Tell us about your favorite words and what they reveal about you. (The "Pet Words" article has many examples of favorite words and Leithauser's speculation on what those favorites might reveal. You can use the article as a model for your response.)


2) Tell us about the favorite words of someone you know--words that the person uses often and that you associate with the person.What do you think these characteristic words reveal about the person?


3) Pull a book you've already read off a shelf. (Or access it on an electronic device.) Skim through it. Are there any substantial words that you notice seeing again and again? What might those words reveal about the author and the book?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Analyzing Style: Words and Sentences

First, read a whole bunch of short passages written in different styles. Read at least a dozen.
You'll find some here by scrolling down and clicking.
You'll find more here.
Choose two passages whose diction (types of words used) you will compare. Type the passages, authors' names, and book of origin into a word processing document.

And choose two other passages whose sentences (structure, syntax, length) you will compare. Type the passages, authors' names, and book of origin into a word processing document.

Next, type* everything you notice about the words used in the first two passages. Think about the formality, language of origin, register, and connotations. Then, speculate about what might be rhetorically and literarily significant about what you have noticed about the words used. Write** down your ideas.

Then, type *everything you notice about the sentences used in the second two passages. Think about the sentence structures (simple, compound, complex, compound-complex). Think about syntax (standard, inverted, periodic). Think about the sentence length. But most importantly try to describe the way the sentence works. Does it start off with an independent clause and then add on additional description and information? Does it begin with a series of dependent clauses before revealing what the sentence is really about? Does it employ listing? Are there any digressions, pauses, or delays on the way to completion? Then, peculate about what might be rhetorically and literarily significant about what how the sentences are constructed. Write** down your ideas.

* Type what you notice on the left side of double entry notes.
** Type your ideas about the significance of what you've noticed on the right side of double entry notes.
Bring the notes to class on Friday, September 13.
Finally, write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the word choices and significance of the word choices in the first two passages. And write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the sentence structures and the significance of the sentence structures in the second two passages. Post these paragraphs in the comment box below before class on Friday, September 13. Use your name and first initial. Make it's clear which passages you are analyzing.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mr. James Cook's AP English Language Policies

1. Know the policies that are in the Compass.

2. Show respect, take responsibility, try hard, have integrity, be engaged
·   This is a college-level class. If you act like a young adult I will treat you that way, at least as much as I am able to do within the confines of a high school. Show respect for yourself, each other, me, other teachers, administrators, staff members, the room (including desks, floors, walls, etc.), and the equipment (books, etc.)

·   Take responsibility for your own education and behavior. In an AP class this means using all the resources at your disposal to demonstrate a mastery of skills and information. Off task behavior is simply unacceptable.

·   Put forth a good faith effort especially when tasks are particularly difficult.

·   Don't copy other people's work. Don't plagiarize. In other words don't cheat. And don't make up fictional excuses. In other words don't lie.

·   I promise to work hard to make sure lessons are purposeful and relevant to your life. If you can read well, write well, and think critically you will have more control over your own life. I can help you with that. I also promise to work hard to make sure we read, write, and think about big questions that human beings have long been concerned with, especially this one: How do people respond to trauma, injustice, and wrongdoing? In return I ask that you engage with the work we do in class and the work I ask you to do outside of class.

3. Staying organized
·          A large three-ring master binder in which you will keep unit binders/folders from completed units and graded processed papers, projects, tests, quizzes, and homework from completed units. (Keep processed papers and projects for the entire year. Keep graded tests and quizzes for the semester. Keep returned homework assignments for the term.)
·         (Optional but recommended.) Smaller three-ring binder, pocket folder, or manila folder for each unit. I recommend using smaller binders for units so you can bring that binder to class every day but leave the heavy master binder at home.
·          The folder or binder you bring to class daily should contain a source of paper.
·          You will also be responsible for bringing whatever book(s)/text(s) we are reading to class each day.
·          Use your school handbook to record homework assignments. Homework assignments are written on the right side of the whiteboard at the front of the class.
4. Grading
30% UNIT-WORK GRADES (Formative Assessments)
These assignments assess your learning along the way.
·          This category consists of reading check quizzes (Did you read and understand?), vocabulary homework (Are you learning the words?), Collins writing types 1 & 2, blog/forum comments, steps in the writing process (pre-writing, drafts, reflections), open response writing, some student-led discussions, some teacher-led discussions, group activities, practice AP questions, etc.
·          Individual assignments (of the type cited above) will be graded using the following system:
The work is considered advanced (90-100, A-range, check-plus) if the work is complete and shows exceptionally thorough and thoughtful understanding of concepts and mastery of skills; the work is considered proficient (80-89, B-range, check) if the work is complete and meets expectations by showing sufficient understanding of concepts and mastery of skills;  the work needs improvement (65-79, C/D-range, check minus, 2 on 4-point unit) if the work is nearly complete and/or shows partial understanding of concepts/skills; the work triggers a warning (<65, F) if the work is incomplete and/or shows little to no understanding of concepts/skills.

70% END-OF-UNIT ASSESSMENT GRADES (Summative Assessments)
These assignments assess your learning after a process of learning, practice and feedback.
·          Grades on unit tests, unit projects, and papers for which you are expected to write more than one draft will be worth 200 points.
·          Grades on content quizzes, single-draft take-home essays, in-class timed essays, some graded discussions, etc. will be worth 100 points.
·          Grades on independent reading products (notes, passage responses, papers) will vary in weight over the course of the year.
·          These assignments will be graded using rubrics, including nine-point the AP English Language rubric, six-point SAT essay rubric, four-point MCAS-style response rubric, discussion rubrics, and others that students will become familiar with throughout the year.

Note: Keep all graded or checked work in your binder or folder. Formal papers and major projects should be kept for the entire year. Graded tests and quizzes should be kept for the semester. Checked homework assignments should be kept for at least the term.
5. Late work
Unit Work (especially homework)
·         Unless you are informed otherwise, homework that is completed late but before the end of the unit will be accepted but for reduced credit. (The grade will be reduced from advanced to proficient, proficient to needs improvement, or needs improvement to warning.)
·         Unless you are informed otherwise, homework that is completed after the end of the unit will not be accepted.
End-of-Unit Work (especially papers and projects)
·          If you are between one and five school days late with an end-of-unit assessment your grade on that paper or project will be reduced by ten points.
·          If you are more than five school days late with an end-of-unit assessment you may receive a passing grade (65) on that paper or project if you discuss the lateness with me , you turn the assignment in a week or more before the end of the term, and the work meets requirements.
·          Not doing an end-of-unit assessment is not an option.

6. Tardiness and Truancy from Class
·          If you are late to class (meaning you arrive at your desk after the bell and after I have begun the day's lesson) you may be asked to stay after school.
·          If you are late by more than seven minutes you will be marked absent from class. This is school policy as set forth in the student handbook.
·          If you are discovered to have skipped class a zero will be added to your unit-work grade. (This consequence is in addition to the consequences outlined in the student handbook.)

7. Absences and make-up work
·          Work missed due to absences is your responsibility. The absence policy for GHS is outlined in the Compass.
·          On the day you return to class, you will be expected to take tests, quizzes, participate, and turn in any assignments that are due on the day of return or had been due during your absence, so long as the due date was announced or posted before your absence.

Note:  These policies are subject to change.  All changes will be announced in class.  Students will cross out the changed language and write in the new.

8. Class Blogs & Emails
·          The class blog can be found at
·          The class Moodle site can be found at
·          Mr. James Cook’s staff website can be found at
·          Email questions to

After reading the policies, use the comment box below to write your first name and last initial followed by the sentence "I understand Mr. James Cook's AP English Language policies."

Ask me questions if you have questions.