Make a Connection to the Poetry

View the first thirty minutes of this Emily Dickinson documentary, Voice and Visions; then view the seven minute documentary on Walt Whitman. While you view each film, consider how each film helps you consider each poet in a new light. Next reflect on how one moment in one video sheds a new light or appreciation of a word, phrase, line, or passage from a Whitman and Dickinson text. Then compose a 6-8 sentence comment in Standard English in the comment thread below. Be sure to utilize MLA form and cite the line of the poem you integrate into your explication.

We will use this outline to discuss the video more in class on Friday:

Minute 9: Emily Dickinson’s biographer, Richard B. Sewall, makes a great connection to Puritan tradition to keeping spiritual diaries to Emily Dickinson’s poetry.

Minute 13 Adrian Rich (poet and narrator of this scene) and Joyce Carol Oates quotes the following poem. Read it to help appreciate the insights of this passage: http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/dickinson.html

Minute 16 Adrian Rich compared her to the metaphysical poets; John Donne is such a poet.

Minutes 19-22 contains an interesting examination of Dickinson’s background on nature. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47653/this-world-is-not-conclusion-373

Minute 23-26: religious integrity. Hymn meter, rhythm and length of the hymn line found in Dickinson’s poetry, too. Great link for the poem examined: https://www.loc.gov/poetry/poetry-of-america/american-identity/dianeseuss-emilydickinson.html

Minute 29-32: the presence of death in 19th century culture. “I Died for Beauty.”

Then view the American Experience documentary on Walt Whitman.

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Posted in American Literary Studies, Design Thinking on HMK, English III Honors, Flipped Classroom, Homework | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Shakespeare Infographic Project

4 reading infographicWhat is the best infographic that you have used before? How did it help? How was it a beautiful display of information? Why is it an effective medium? This infographic came from Neil Patel’s blog post, “Ten Infographics,” and we can post other great curations in the comment box below. Check out the other infographics on Neil Patel’s page, and we can discuss later his criteria for celebrating important qualities of infographics, especially the need to check data and cite sources.

Our Shakespeare Infographic Project: How Can We Appreciate and Analyze Shakespearean Sonnets. Phase One: Essential Questions and Infographic models. Essential Questions: What do you know about Shakespeare and what do you want to learn? These guiding questions will help us find common ground before we begin the actual work of this project. We’ll have students answer these questions quietly and on their own; then they will share with a neighbor and increase the groups until we have class consensus on a final list of what we know and what we want to learn about Shakespeare.

Then the class will view two infographic models. The first is what some believe is the most effective infographic of all time:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3T7jMcstxY0 .  The second infographic meets seniors at an interesting intersection of midterm grades and just before vacation. So seniors can work hard to the finish line of this week, yet they can reflect on their time-management of the fall trimester so far and make adjustments if needed for their work ahead. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/240262 . The class will produce an infographic that will explain the complexities of a Shakespearean sonnet and will include such topics of poetry devices, themes, Elizabethan culture, climate, and history as well as the legacy and modern iterations of Shakespearean sonnets today. For instance, have you ever heard this #hiphop version before? Short version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_31_UDs7Iac Longer TED Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSbtkLA3GrY

When each group has a product, then we will establish a rubric together for an engagement grade, we will then have the class decide which infographic we will publish to our Shakespeare Twitter account: https://twitter.com/The_Wit_of_Will

We can also use this social media platform to connect with other experts and have them give us authentic feedback our group work. Perhaps more importantly, when we are working toward preparing for our trimester exam, which is Wednesday, November 14th, we can utilize these infographics for our review sheets. Hopefully, these infographics will be so good that others will benefit from our work. Will that be another authentic way to receive feedback on our work?

In the meantime, we will begin working in groups, and students will compose an essay together on Sonnet 18. That experience will help them become better designers of this infographic, and writing an essay together is a great way to leverage the group’s writing skills and knowledge of Shakespeare and poetic devices.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Story of Your Life is Told Before You are Born

Let’s launch our unit on Shakespeare’s sonnets and Hamlet with background information from this critically acclaimed documentary, In Search of Shakespeare, by Michael Wood. We will have you view this for homework and submit your responses to the ten questions for a homework grade. Note that the video ends around 58 minutes. You can view the other material if you so wish.

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Create a Compelling Argument

This is just to let you know that the technology department in the Crowsnest likes to connect literature to modern movies; enjoy this trailer from the interesting and entertaining teen movie, Easy A. Though by no means a rendition of Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, you will find that the screenplay writers made a modern homage and modernized some issues from Hawthorne’s novel to present day culture:  individual reputations within an intense, hypocritical community, double standards, and the social dynamics when cultural forces treat women as objects. Have you seen this movie? It was released a while ago, but maybe you caught it on Netflix recently. Or that other medium, Television. You can enjoy the movie in your free time, though it will not directly help you with the nuances of the novel’s plot and Hawthorne’s prose. It is just a fun and thought provoking  homage. In the meantime, click on the link below of past AP Essay prompts. Download and review carefully this PDF Document, which lists the essay questions on the past AP Exams. Please reflect on the whole list well and then select what you think is the best prompt to apply to The Scarlet Letter. Argue in 5-7 sentences in Standard English, which prompt would help you create the optimal essay for The Scarlet Letter. You can refer to your prompt simply by the year. Again, compose your 5-7 sentence argument in a Word document so that you can conduct spellcheck and grammar check easily. Then paste your 5-7 sentence argument in the comment thread below this post. In other words, you will make comments on this post just as you did for the comments on the community text. AP_Eng_Lit.Open_Responses

Posted in 21st Century Learning, American Literary Studies, Becoming an American Literary Critic, Best Practices for Blogging, Growth Mindset, Homework, Honors English III, Twitter, YouTube | Tagged | 14 Comments

Why Do You Think Solitude is Important in Today’s Culture?

The goal of this blog post is to begin a conversation during the first night of study hall tonight among students in all four of my classes about individuals’ reaction to this year’s community theme. This year’s theme of solitude was launched by the interesting book, Silence: In the Age of Noise, by Erling Kagge. Here’s a fascinating NY Times article where the author tries to find places of silence in New York City. Our school web page published the summer reading list in June and celebrates how “Kagge explores the silence around us, the silence within us, and the silence we must create. By recounting his own experiences and discussing the observations of poets, artists, and explorers, Kagge shows us why silence is essential to sanity and happiness—and how it can open doors to wonder and gratitude.” Above is the TED Talk that he gave at the University of St. Andrews, which he mentions in the book. That TED Talk was one of the things that spurred him on to compose the book.

This year the school is using this definition of solitude to sustain interesting conversations in and outside of class. “Solitude is the state of being alone, especially when this is peaceful and pleasant. It is a time for thinking and rest, an opportunity for contemplation, growth in personal spirituality, and development of self. Solitude is empowering as it reconnects us with ourselves.”

So what’s your take-away regarding importance of solitude?

Directions: Reflect on a moment over the community text and find a passage that resonated with you and our community theme of solitude. How did that passage suggest important values about solitude? Likewise, you can reflect on other books you read this summer or books from previous English classes and respond to this prompt. Once you have articulated your connection between the community theme of solitude and a moment in a specific text, then supply one sentence or phrase from the text that supports your takeaway (your idea, insight, or claim), and compose a 5-7 sentences in Standard English explaining how your quotation explains and supports your takeaway about solitude. Please follow MLA guidelines for citing your page number so that we can look up your passage easily. I suggest that you compose your comment in a Word document first, and then read it out loud to see how you can improve the flow of your ideas. Here’s a great model for help: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02/ Also recall to italicize titles.

Posted in Community Theme, Community Theme, Text, Reflective Assessment, TED Talks/TEDx Talks, YouTube | Tagged | 63 Comments

Reflect and Locate Chinua Achebe’s Post Colonial Novel, Things Fall Apart

Let’s enjoy this informative interview with Nigerian author Chinua Achebe that was recorded fifty years after the publication of his novel, Things Fall Apart. View this interview and take notes on a few items. First note what was Achebe’s first motive to write this novel. “What needed to be done,” according to Achebe? Also reflect on the universal themes that Achebe discusses.

We’ll then discuss during another day in class Chinua Achebe’s influence on Novelist Chimamanda Adichie. What motives do they share? Do you realize that they are writing in different eras? While we only have a short period of time to discuss the summer reading, we will focus on how Achebe uses elements of modernism (remember your spring term in English III?) to create a post colonial story. We’ll also be mindful that he influences other African authors today. Do you know of other authors besides Chimamanda Adichie who pay tribute to Achebe’s influence? 

To start a conversation for class on the blog, comment below and reflect on the value of Chimamanda Adichie’s lesson of moving beyond one story. What is the most important part of her TED talk that informs your opinion. Compose this comment in 4-6 sentences in Standard English in a word document so that when you paste your comment below, you have proofed your prose and performed a spell check.

Here’s a great way to locate what we mean in an English classroom when we discuss issues of post colonialism: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/10/

Again, what other African novelists besides Chimamanda Adichie have taken up Achebe’s role and have tried  to tell  the story of their generation? Please research and post a thoughtful comment in Standard English below this post.

Posted in Summer Reading, TED Talks/TEDx Talks, YouTube | Tagged | 6 Comments

Shakespeare Infographic Project

4 reading infographicWhat is the best infographic that you have used before? How did it help? How was it a beautiful display of information? Why is it an effective medium? This infographic came from Neil Patel’s blog post, “Ten Infographics,” and we can post other great curations in the comment box below.

Shakespeare Infographic Project: the class will produce an infographic that will explain the complexities of a Shakespearean sonnet and will include such topics of poetry skills, themes, Elizabethan culture, climate, and history as well as the legacy and modern iterations of Shakespearean sonnets today. For instance, have you ever heard this #hiphop version before? Short version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_31_UDs7Iac Longer TED Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSbtkLA3GrY

Working in groups, students will compose an essay together on Sonnet 18. That experience will help them become better designers of an infographic. This sonnet project will help you learn how to write your own sonnet essay this trimester and will serve as a review sheet for the trimester exam. When each group has a product that we will establish a rubric together for an engagement grade, we will then have the class decide which infographic we will publish to our Shakespeare Twitter account: https://twitter.com/The_Wit_of_Will

 

 

 

 

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Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Langston Hughes and the Racial Mountain

Aspects of Negro Life: Song of the Towers by Aaron Douglas

Langston Hughes was one of the most influential and paradoxical poets of his time. He is both so deeply invested in the foundations of our Modern American culture and grossly underrepresented in the scholarly literature of said culture. Langston Hughes was among the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, a political, artistic, and cultural movement in Harlem around the 1920’s and 1930’s. Similar to the European Renaissance, the Harlem Renaissance was about vocalizing and celebrating the African-American experience, announcing this simultaneously new and ancient experience to America and to the world, and creating great art. Before Langston Hughes became a Harlem Renaissance heavy hitter, he grew up in Kansas, briefly attended Columbia University on track to become a mining engineer. Eventually he dropped out of Columbia and dropped into the world of Art and Poetry, Harlem. One of his most culturally impactful pieces was an early essay / manifesto called “The Negro Artist and the Racial Artist”. In this he articulates the difficulties facing “The Negro Artist” in 1920’s America, of which there were many. He speaks about the dangers of the phrase “I want to be a poet — not a Negro poet”, saying, “meaning, I believe, ‘I want to write like a white poet’; meaning subconsciously, ‘I would like to be a white poet’; meaning behind that, ‘I would like to be white'”.  Hughes goes on to say that “no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet.” This essay is essentially a battle against “this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.” Hughes postulates that the deeply culturally and systematically racist society that America supported for so long ingrained a subconscious idea of white superiority, specifically in art and literature, in the minds of all. This backwards hegemony is horribly detrimental to aspiring artists because, according to Hughes, artists must know and love themselves before they can be a “great poet”. Hughes in this essay is encouraging “The Negro Artist” to produce art that is wholly themselves, to try not to be anything thing that they are not, to cling to their own all encompassing identity so resolutely as to not be shaken from it by the battering that “truly racial” art receives. Hughes uses Jean Toomer’s Cane as an example, saying, ” The colored people did not praise it. The white people did not buy it. Most of the colored people who did read Cane hate it. They are afraid of it. Although the critics gave it good reviews the public remained indifferent.” Hughes closes the essay with this line, “If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn’t matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves,” which is a great summation of the larger theme of the work. As an artist and as a human being, you will not find external success among internal strife. You must come to terms with your many multitudes and learn to love them.

Source: http://teachers.phillipscollection.org/artwork/aspects-negro-life

 

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The two constants in Mary Oliver’s Life: Nature and Dogs

Mary Oliver came from an unhappy home life complete with a sexually abusive father and a neglectful mother. From a very young age, she began wondering the woods, with Walden in her backpack, exploring and trying to escape her home life. To this day, she claims she doesn’t care for the enclosure of buildings. With this in mind, her choice of writing almost universally writing her poetry about nature should be no surprise.

Many different themes and subjects are touched upon in Mary Oliver’s poetry, however the underlying themes throughout her poetry is of nature and its deep connection to.

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/07/books/mary-olivers-dog-songs-finds-poetry-in-friends.html

Mary Oliver’s love for nature and her constant need for dogs is clearly seen throughout her poetry.

She compares and contrasts the ideal state of nature to the messiness and imperfections of humans.  Her sporadic disconnect with humans, stems directly from her child hood and all the things she tried to escape as a child in the woods with Walden.

 

Her love for nature and her comfort with nature is also illuminated in her life through her constant requirement of having a dog. She has said, “Dogs are the perfect companion…They don’t speak!”.

Although, she only talks in a positive way about people when there is nature involved. She insists that a person is made better by nature and that when one is lost, nature will help them find not only their way again, but themselves. Dogs, in Mary Oliver’s eyes, are the perfect companion nature has provided for humans. This again, stems directly from her childhood upbringing. She found herself, when she was younger, in the woods, where she felt most comfortable. Her childhood continues to mold her adult hood, especially in her poetry.

Source: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/mary-oliver

 

 

 

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A New Perspective-Poet Laureate 2018-2019

Tracy K. Smith, an African American female poet originally from Massachusetts, was reappointed for Poet Laureate for the 2018-2019 year. Her amazing prose like, Duende, Wade in the Water, and My Life on Mars helped her earn the remarkable title originally. Each year, the Library Congress chooses to appoint one poet who has represented American poems as a whole and represented a greater appreciation for writing poetry.  Smith addresses social issues regarding race, gender, and sexual assault in many of her poems, attempting to shine a light on the frequent problematic controversies in today’s society. Smith has expresses her motive for writing this type of poetry as, “a way for her to ‘bring voice to the unsayable, the untranslatable.’”  Smith “strips down” her poetry to attain a raw and real meaning to the words she is expressing in her poetry. Her use of simple diction reflects an elegant tone that develops the structure to her topic.  Due to her title as Poet Laureate, Smith writes for the American people, not just a specific race or ethnicity; this is what makes her so unique. As a woman of African descent, having a different perspective for the voice of America’s poets creates a new approach to the position. Smith is very devoted to her fans and she often has poetry readings. Listening to the passion she portrays when reading her own poem aloud, takes the listeners and readers to another place. Her words become alive as they escape her mouth, the reader suddenly becomes the main character. As Smith takes the readers on the journey of her poem, the audience experiences the struggles Smith highlights. The impact the video makes is why Smith is Poet Laureate. Not only does she take a reader and make them into a minority American, allowing them to experience their struggles to try and grasp a different point of view.

Here Are the Poems I chose for my term paper that helped me experience Smith’s passion:

 

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