Tenth Grade Honors English

16 Jun 2019

Essay Corrections

You may submit to me an essay corrections sheet, as shown in your writing guide.  You may correct ten items that have been labeled with a writing guide identifier (eg, 6A, 3D, etc).  You may choose whichever items you please.  Send the corrections sheet to me via email as a PDF.  I will accept corrections until Monday at 8:00 am.  I cannot accept them later than this.

Summer Reading

College Prep: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Honors: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and one additional nonfiction text of your choice

AP Language and Composition: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, and one additional nonfiction text of your choice.  See me for more info!

31 May 2019

Link to guide.

30 Apr 2019

1.  What is Okonkwo's idea of masculinity?  Is this typical of Igbo society, as best you can tell, or are his views unusual?  Provide evidence to support your answer.

2. In Chapter 10, the nine egwugwu render judgment about a case of domestic violence.  What was their decision?  Was it a good decision?

3.  We hear multiple times about the egwugwu.  At Iguedo's funeral in Chapter 13, they appear again -- in a very menacing form, no less, with one machete-wielding "spirit" only restrained by a long rope.  Is it a game of pretend, or do the people of Umuofia believe them to be real?

4.  On pages 96-99, we read the whole of an Igbo folktale told by Ekwefi.  Why?  What purposes does this serve?

5.  The destruction of Abame is an odd tale, related in Ch 15.  What really happened, do you think?

24 Apr 2019

Read or reread Chs 4 and 5.

1.  Yam is called a man's crop.  Why?  And does this stand in contrast with the manner in which it is actually tended (pg 33)?

2.  Often, Okonkwo will harbor some soft feelings (repentance, fondness of Ikemefuna), but will not allow himself to show these feelings.  What is the result of his hardness, both in terms of the impression he makes and his own self-image?

3.  Read this description of the correspondence bias.  How does it apply to Okonkwo and help explain his actions?

4.  How does time pass in the text, as it is narrated to us?

5.  Ch 5 focuses closely on Ekwefi and Ezinma, leaving Okonkwo for the most part.  Why this focus -- how does it serve Achebe?

23 Apr 2019

Create a correctly formatted Works Cited page, following all writing guide guidelines, including the following sources:

  • Things Fall Apart (the physical text you were issued)
  • http://www.randomhouse.com/highschool/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780385474542&view=tg
  • The Achebe interview from here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/133_wbc_archive_new/page2.shtml
  • This video: https://www.learner.org/courses/worldlit/things-fall-apart/watch/
  • https://wmich.edu/dialogues/texts/thingsfallapart.html

22 Apr 2019

To finish from class:
    The kola nut contains a significant amount of caffeine which is why it was used in the recipe for many early “cola” drinks.  As a comparison modern Coca-Cola contains about 29 grams of caffeine per 12 oz can already a significant amount while the kola nut can contain ten times as much.  The original recipe for Coca-Cola used straight kola extract to deliver what we would today consider an unsafe level of caffeine

Finish this paragraph with your own compound-complex sentence.

Ask students to write a paragraph apiece on a topic from their current text, Okonkwo’s character, using these elements:
At least one interruption or appositive phrase.
At least one compound sentence.
At least one complex sentence with the subordinate clause first.
At least one compound-complex sentence with the subordinate clause in the middle.

Copy the following sentences into your work document and correctly punctuate them.
1.  That dog an Alsatian terrier can be relied upon to hunt rabbits
2.  Once he has found a rabbit he usually kills it with a sharp bite to the nape of the neck
3.  If you don’t want him to kill the rabbit you need to teach him to “soft-mouth” it
4.  This technique which is taught in most obedience schools is essential to keeping the rabbit alive
5.  Once you have the living stunned rabbit then you may do as you please with it
6.  The rabbit may be kept as a pet and no one will know how you obtained it
7.  It will be a secret between you your dog and your new pet rabbit
8.  Rabbits are also sometimes used for magic tricks but you do not want to forget where you put your rabbit during the trick
9.  You might make that mistake once or twice but you’ll need a new rabbit
10.  Above all please be kind to all animals

11 Apr 2019

1. What accomplishments have helped to make Okonkwo a great man of the village?

2. Compare and contrast Okonkwo with his father, Unoka.  Why do you think Okonkwo feels as he does toward his father?

3. Okonkwo is a wealthy man and a noble.  What are the signs of his wealth?

4. How doe the men of Umofia decide what to do about the murder of a woman from their clan?  What role do the women of Umofia have in the decision?

5. According to Achebe, what emotion dominates Okonkwo’s life?  What is the source of this emotion?

6. Achebe tells us, “Among the Ibo . . . proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.”  This statement itself is a proverb.  How do you interpret it?

28 Mar 2019

You will soon be finishing The Merchant of Venice.  Your next major task will be writing an analytical essay on the play.  To begin, you will start with a less ambitious in-class essay, due on turnitin.com at the end of the period.

Please answer the following prompt:

    The Merchant of Venice repeatedly invokes ugly stereotypes in service to its story of risks and rewards.  Most prominent among these is Shylock, a heavily-stereotyped Jewish merchant who serves as the play's villain.  Many readers have noted, however, that Shylock is given a deeply sympathetic speech about the ways in which Jewish people are just like everyone else (beginning at III.i.50).  Further, his daughter Jessica is clearly intended to be sympathetic, despite the fact that much of this sympathy comes from her intended conversion.  With all of this in mind, then, do you believe that the play, when read today, is more likely to exacerbate racial stereotypes or explode them?

You will be graded on (a) your adherence to the conventions of written English, as delineated in the writing guide, as well as (b) your organization, and (c) the extent to which you fully and accurately answer the prompt.

4 Feb 2019

a play in one act


[Scene: A darkened cemetery.  Several rows of moldy tombstones are visible in the gloom.  STUDENT stands in front of them, studying the illegible inscriptions.]

    I wonder who these people were, once upon a time.

[MR. DAVIS enters from stage left.  He strolls casually up behind STUDENT.]

MR. DAVIS  [Drily]
    Hello.  Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to startle you.

    It's okay.  I was just -

MR. DAVIS [Interrupting]
   You were just wondering who these were?  These are the remains of those who neglected to complete their English assignments in a timely and thorough fashion.  It is a sad fate, almost a Dickensian one, and I would not wish it on anyone.  The world dealt with them cruelly.

[STUDENT nods solemnly.  They kneel and touch one stone hesitantly.]

    Alas, poor fool.  Didn't you know that good communication skills are one of the most valuable tools for anyone?

[The two stand silently for some time.  Curtain.]

1 Feb 2019

Read pages 9-14 of this handout and then answer the questions below.  You may work in partners, but each of you should have answers in your work document.

1.  Why do you think, based on this handout, that a bookbinder/owner would have cut away the edges of a First Folio?

2.  What was the job of a compositor?

3.  Why did compositors tend to have more consistent spelling, compared with other people of the time?  What specifically about their job made that necessary?

4.  How did compositors handle spacing problems when setting type (ie what did they do when they had too much text or too little text?

25 Jan 2018

One Act Tragedy

Having read a tragedy, you will now write one of your own.  Your tragedy must include (a) at least three scenes in one act, (b) ample stage directions to communicate setting and character action, (c) coherent dialogue, (d) a dramatis personae, and (e) character development.  Your play must be a tragedy, although it may contain comedic elements.  Your play may be entirely fictional or you may dramatize real events, but you may not simply adapt another work you have done previously (or the work of another).  A strong dramatic arc would be a good idea.  A rough draft is due on February 4th, and a final draft is due on February 6th.

Any depiction of violence in a school are not permitted, and submissions containing such will be rejected.

It is strongly suggested you begin by outlining your work with a single theme you wish to communicate, and then delineate what occurs in each scene.

10 Jan 2018

Please note the date!  This assignment is to be begun in class on the tenth.

Performance: IV.i.1-210

In groups of three, you will perform most of this scene before the class.  You do not need to memorize your lines.  You may provide any props that assist you (as long as they are safe).  You will be graded on your acting, your stagecraft, and the fluidity of your recitation.  You have already seen the rubric, but another is available to view on the board.  You are not permitted to lay hands on another student during your performance (for your safety) nor to scream (for the well-being of the school).

It would be wise to be sure to use your performance space wisely.  Avoid "stand and deliver" -- move around in a way that makes sense and meshes with your lines!

Please be appropriate in your gesticulations.

You will be performing on Monday the fourteenth.

8 Jan 2018

Homework: rewrite the following into contemporary English.

Let him do his spite:
My services which I have done the signiory
Shall out-tongue his complaints. 'Tis yet to know,--
Which, when I know that boasting is an honour,
I shall promulgate--I fetch my life and being
From men of royal siege, and my demerits
May speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune
As this that I have reach'd: for know, Iago,
But that I love the gentle Desdemona,
I would not my unhoused free condition
Put into circumscription and confine
For the sea's worth. But, look! what lights come yond?

From I.ii

8 Jan 2018

Rewrite the following into contemporary English.

Nay, but he prated,
And spoke such scurvy and provoking terms
Against your honour
That, with the little godliness I have,
I did full hard forbear him. But, I pray you, sir,
Are you fast married? Be assured of this,
That the magnifico is much beloved,
And hath in his effect a voice potential
As double as the duke's: he will divorce you;
Or put upon you what restraint and grievance
The law, with all his might to enforce it on,
Will give him cable.

From I.ii

7 Jan 2018

Rewrite the following into contemporary English.  Remember today's discussion about the utility of this... learning to read difficult language is a skill that everyone needs (unless, that is, you are willing to hand control over your life to other people).

The worser welcome:
I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors:
In honest plainness thou hast heard me say
My daughter is not for thee; and now, in madness,
Being full of supper and distempering draughts,
Upon malicious bravery, dost thou come
To start my quiet.

From I.i

20 Dec 2018

Comic Othello
Due 1/2/18

Choose any scene from Act I, II, or III and adapt it in comic form.  You may not choose II.ii or III.ii.  I'd suggest that I.i or I.ii are both dynamic scenes that would be fun to depict.  You may cut no more than 20% of the lines for length; I'd suggest shortening some of the longer speeches.

12 Dec 2018

After having read III.i, form a group of five with other students.  You may have a group smaller than five if you wish, but no larger.  You and your group are going to act out the scene (III.i) tomorrow during class.  Decide amongst yourselves who will take each part, and then practice the scene.  You must try to follow all stage directions - bonus points in particular if your musician plays an instrument (briefly, ~1 min or less... no whole songs please). You will receive a group quiz grade based on your acting, adherence to the stage directions, and delivery of the lines.  You should certainly practice your lines beforehand, but you need not memorize them (you can read them from your book).

21 Nov 2018

A criminal with knowledge of an imminent terrorist attack, that will kill many people, is in the hands of the authorities and that he will disclose the information needed to prevent the attack only if he is tortured.

The number of potential victims is not known, but it will be numbered in the thousands.  The form of the torture is not specified, but it will involve physical pain and injury.

1.  Should he be tortured?

2.  If he won’t break under torture, should his wife and children be tortured?

3.  Does your answer change if the number of people at risk is larger; e.g. what if the number of potential victims is in the millions, or extends to the entire planet?

4.  The United States is a party to binding international treaties forbidding torture.  Does that affect your answer at all?

These are not theoretical concerns, but very real ones that people have faced in recent years in the United States.

9 Nov 2018

Autobiographical Comic
Due Friday, 11/16/18

Create a comic book using your preferred skills and newfound comics knowledge.  It should recount an event from your life.  The comic must be a minimum of six pages, a minimum of twelve total panels, a minimum of four types of panels, and a minimum of four types of closures, but you are encouraged to focus on telling a good story, rather than meeting the minimums.  You will have some limited class time in which to work.  Paper will be provided.

Your grade will be based on (a) the effectiveness of your comic as a story and (b) the degree to which you fulfill the requirements.


  • Six pages minimum.
  • Twelve panels minimum, distributed however you wish.
  • Four different types of panels (word specific, duo specific, etc.)
  • Four types of closures (moment-to-moment, non sequitur, etc.)

6 Nov 2018

You see a runaway trolley moving toward five tied-up (or otherwise incapacitated) people lying on the tracks. You are standing next to a lever that controls a switch. If you pull the lever, the trolley will be redirected onto a side track and the five people on the main track will be saved. However, there is a single person lying on the side track.  You know none of these people. You have two options:

  • Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.
  • Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.
Yes, this scenario is wildly unrealistic, but do not try to wiggle out of it ("I would run and shove the other person out of the way.")  Have courage and make the hard choice, rather than trying to hide from it.

Answer the following:

  1. Which is the more ethical choice: to pull the lever or not to pull the lever?  Why?
  2. (If you chose to pull the lever) Aren't you taking personal responsibility for deciding someone's life or death?  Is that okay?
  3. (If you chose not to pull the lever)  Aren't you permitting four needless deaths that you could have prevented if you had acted?  How large would the number have to get before you would pull the lever... would you let ten people die?  A hundred?  A thousand?
  4. Does your answer change if you know any of these people?  Why is someone's life worth more or less... depending on whether or not they know you?

31 Oct 2018

1.  What are some of the ways that comics have dealt with the challenge of showing motion in a static medium?

2.  What is subjective motion?

29 Oct 2018

1.  McCloud on p73 says that comics have "closure for blood, gutters for veins."  What does that mean?

2.  What is McCloud's general explanation for the prevalence of aspect-to-aspect closures in Japanese manga?

3.  Why are comics a collaboration between author and reader?

26 Oct 2018

It is possible to insert a wire into a rat’s brain so that the “pleasure center” of the brain can be directly stimulated with a small electrical charge.  The experience seems to be unimaginably pleasurable for the rat.  When this wire is hooked up to a lever that the rat can then press, the rat will enthusiastically do so.


In fact, “rats will perform lever-pressing at rates of several thousand responses per hour for days in order to obtain direct electrical stimulation of the lateral hypothalamus. Multiple studies have demonstrated that rats will perform reinforced behaviors at the exclusion of all other behaviors. Experiments have shown rats to forgo food to the point of starvation in order to work for brain stimulation or intravenous cocaine when both food and stimulation are offered concurrently for a limited time each day. Rats will even cross electrified grids to press a lever, and they are willing to withstand higher levels of shock to obtain electrical stimulation than to obtain food.” (Wikipedia)

Imagine that human beings could easily be hooked up to a wire in the same way.  At the push of a button, they can give themselves the most amazingly pleasurable experience that is possible.

Should this be legal?  Why or why not?  Think it through carefully, and answer in a paragraph.

25 Oct 2018

1.  Explain closure.

2.  Why is the painting by Al Held on p83 titled the way that it is?

3.  What the heck is going on with p73?

23 Oct 2018

Create a worksheet to help someone understand comics as a medium, asking them questions that involve thinking about the textbook's ideas or finding information from within it.  Your worksheet should be at least one full page, but may be two-sided if you wish.  You may have multiple choice questions, short answer questions, matching, or any other type of question.  You may only have an essay question if there are at least two thoughtful possible prompts.  Make sure you leave room for answers and a name space!

Once you are done, share it with me and put a link to it in your work document.

20 Oct 2018

After you read Chapter 3, words to add to your notes and define: closure, moment-to-moment closure, action-to-action closure, subject-to-subject closure, scene-to-scene closure, aspect-to-aspect closure, and non-sequitur closure.

19 Oct 2018

Suggested books for Tuesday:
Mouse Guard, by David Peterson
Black Panther, by Ta-nehisi Coates
The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman
Calvin & Hobbes collections, by Bill Watterson
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
Bone, by Jeff Smith
Ghosts, by Reina Teiemeyer
El Deafo, by Cece Bell
American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang

18 Oct 2018

Add the following terms to your notes and define them based on McCloud's discussions: comic (p8), icon (p27), universality (p31), masking effect (p43)

1.  How is an icon different from a more realistic, complex pictorial representation?

2.  What is the point of icons -- why use them instead of less abstract images?

3.  Look up pareidolia online.  What is it, and how is it relevant to our discussion of icons?

4.  On page 34, what actions are depicted in the pictures -- what is the narrator doing?

5.  McCloud talks about the tenuous separation of ourselves from objects with which we're interacting, using a car as an example ("He hit me!" p38).  How does he relate this phenomenon to the experience of understanding icons in a comic on pg41?

6.  What sacrifice is made when something is made more abstract in its iconic depiction?

10 Oct 2018

1.  In Annie John, it sounds as though students are arrayed in order of their performance on their first major writing assignment.  Annie sits in the first seat in the first row, the second-place winner Hilarene sits in the second seat, etc.  At Mount Greylock we do not do things in this manner.  Why not?

2.  The girls seem very preoccupied with their breasts, and try various superstitious things to get them to grow.  Why?

3.  Annie pities the minister's daughter, Ruth.  Why, and what is particularly interesting about their power dynamic?

4.  Who does Annie think about and compare to Columbus?  What is the significance of this comparison?

5.  "[Paradise Lost] is about the Christian story of the Fall of Man: how Adam and Eve got out from the Garden of Eden and about the fallen angel Lucifer." (https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_Lost)  What do you think the purpose of this allusion might be?

6.  The fact that Annie's mother tricked her into eating breadfruit seems like a minor detail.  Why does it take on such significance?

9 Oct 2018

The Simpsons Rule

It is acceptable to have details, figurative language, allusions, or jokes that are lost on most readers, as long as that omission does not interfere with the plot.

2 Oct 2018

Autobiographical Sketch

Due 10/10

Write an autobiographical sketch, written about an incident in your life, of 1000 words or more.  Your sketch should be in the third person, despite the fact that it happened to you.  Your sketch should have a coherent and effective dramatic arc, no matter the plot.  Choose an event that can supply you with the necessary narrative tension.

This sketch must be turned it on TurnItIn.com.
  • True to Life: how evocative is your sketch in recreating events, to put us in the scene?   33 points
  • Style: do you adhere to the Style Guide for grammar, spelling, etc?   33 points
  • Effectiveness: how effective is your sketch as a narrative?    33 points

1 Oct 2018

1.  Identify and explain five ways in which Kincaid expresses Annie's alienation at her new school in the first paragraph of Ch 3.

2.  What is Annie's attitude towards school?  Provide examples from the text.

3.  What is the purpose of the allusion to The Tempest?

4.  Who was the woman on the cover of Annie's old notebooks (p40)?

5.  Annie John is a bildungsroman (a coming-of-age story).  Annie's relationship with her mother and the world are two aspects of her character growth.  Tell me the way in which her essay contributes to both aspects.

6.  Race is addressed only tangentially in the text, with hints about the headmistress appearing like an abandoned prune or Gwen's knees being ashy.  Why?  Are there implications?

7.  How does Annie decide whether or not to be nice to another child (p49)?  What is the significance of this?

8.  At the end of the chapter, Annie begins to menstruate.  How does this affect her?

24 Sep 2018

1.  The sharp break in Annie's relationship with her mother comes from a seemingly small comment made by Annie's mother.  What was it?  Was there a larger idea behind the comment-- i.e., what is happening beneath the surface, in terms of the symbolism of the incident, to young Annie?  There are hidden depths of complexity behind small things... seek them out!

2.  This breakdown in Annie's relationship with her mother is accelerated by another incongruously small incident.  What was it, and was there a larger idea behind that in terms of symbolism?  What change in attitude did the incident precipitate to further damage their relationship?

3.  Chapter Two concludes with a surprising revelation about Annie's new school.  What is surprising?  Why is it surprising?  Should it be surprising (ah, there's the rub!)?

14 Sep 2018 -
Summer Reading Essay
Due 9/19

Choose a short passage (a page or less) from White Tiger that best encapsulates what you believe Aravind Adiga is saying about modern India in his book. Then write a short paper of two to three pages answering the following questions, using the passage as a focus: what trends within the country is Adiga warning about, and does he offer any real solutions?

It is unwise to procrastinate.  It is important that your paper include a clear thesis statement, a coherent organizational scheme, and appropriate citations linked to a correct Works Cited page.  Your style guide will be a valuable resource.

This essay must be turned it on TurnItIn.com.

  • Comprehensiveness: do you completely answer the entire prompt?   33 points
  • Style: do you adhere to the Style Guide for citations, formatting, etc.?   33 points
  • Effectiveness: how well do you make your points?    33 points

12 Sep 2018 - Remember that on Friday you will be graded on your simple, initial setup tasks:

  • Correctly completed student information sheet.
  • Correctly created and shared Work Document.
  • Correct enrollment in turnitin.com

Also, if you have not read The White Tiger, make sure you're done with it by Friday, when you get your first writing assignment!

10 Sep 2018 - Welcome to class!  You might want to bookmark this page for later reference.
Upcoming deadlines: