Tag Archive for All the King’s Men

Argument Analysis: Literature Connections

While the GRE prompts and suggestions for this week are great for an AP English Language class because of the focus on argument, these prompts could also work really well when partnered with literature. The pool of “Analyze an Issue” prompts tend to work better when pairing with literature because of the nature of the prompts and the brevity of the statements.  The beauty of these prompts is that they could be used at any point within a novel; however, I think they serve as an excellent way to introduce the text.  Similar to what was stated yesterday, I struggle to write my own quality statements for anticipation guides; they tend to be generic and fairly short-sighted.  Now I just use GRE prompts because they are complex enough to generate really meaningful discussion.

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Consider using some of the suggestions on Tuesday and Wednesday to incorporate the below prompts as a form of an anticipation guide or use some of the suggestions from our week on anticipation guides.  You could have the students thoroughly analyze or debate one of the below issues or compile multiple statements into for students to consider the extent to which they agree with each.

TEXTS WITH MAN v. SOCIETY CONFLICT-like The Great Gatsby, Grapes of Wrath, Pygmalion, and Crime and Punishment

  • People’s behavior is largely determined by forces not of their own making.
  • Claim: The best way to understand the character of a society is to examine the character of the men and women that the society chooses as its heroes or its role models. Reason: Heroes and role models reveal a society’s highest ideals.
  • The increasingly rapid pace of life today causes more problems than it solves.

TEXTS WITH MAN v. SELF CONFLICT-like Death of a Salesman, Catcher in the Rye, Hamlet, and Lord of the Flies

  • Unfortunately, in contemporary society, creating an appealing image has become more important than the reality or truth behind that image.
  • As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more complex and mysterious.
  • It is primarily through our identification with social groups that we define ourselves.
  • The luxuries and conveniences of contemporary life prevent people from developing into truly strong and independent individuals.

TEXTS WITH MAN V MAN CONFLICT-like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Separate Peace, and To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Claim: We can usually learn much more from people whose views we share than from those whose views contradict our own.  Reason: Disagreement can cause stress and inhibit learning.
  • In any situation, progress requires discussion among people who have contrasting points of view.
  • Scandals are useful because they focus our attention on problems in ways that no speaker or reformer ever could.

TEXTS WITH POLITICAL UNDERCURRENTS: like All the King’s Men, Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, and Julius Caesar

  • The well-being of a society is enhanced when many of its people question authority.
  • Governments should not fund any scientific research whose consequences are unclear.
  • Leaders are created by the demands that are placed on them.
  • Claim: In any field—business, politics, education, government—those in power should step down after five years.  Reason: The surest path to success for any enterprise is revitalization through new leadership.
  • Some people believe that in order to be effective, political leaders must yield to public opinion and abandon principle for the sake of compromise. Others believe that the most essential quality of an effective leader is the ability to remain consistently committed to particular principles and objectives.

Tiny Texts: Overview

Books Don’t Take You Anywhere” is one my favorite articles from The Onion for classroom use.  Under 400 words, it is tiny in comparison to the heft of All

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the King’s Men or The Grapes of Wrath.  It can be used to teach satire, SOAPSTone, and argument.  I also use it as a warm-up before using the AP Language and Composition’s 2005 rhetorical analysis taken from The Onion and have students use it to construct AP argument and rhetorical analysis prompts.

What isn’t there to love about a text that argues our reading never physically transports us to “evil witches, messianic lions or closet portals to other universes”?  Hah.  Even fifteen years later it holds up.  This is not the moment where I make the argument that this is a more important text or where I suggest that students will actually laugh out loud while reading it.  But it is where I argue that small texts are important classroom supplements.

As we enter mid January 2012, it seems appropriate that we deal with a series of small and unusual “texts” that make arguments about… well, texts.  Why?  Text, in all of its various forms, drives us to teach.  Sometimes, too, it’s nice to be reminded in the “bleak mid-winter” that small texts can be just as powerful and meaningful.  This week we will help remind you of just that with lessons highlighting Tiny Stories, book artists and phantoms, and Google Doodles.  Our hope is that somewhere during these “darker” days you finding something meaningful in something small.

Twitter: Essential Literary Questions

The New York Times ran a story this past May about Twitter as a classroom backchannel.  The NYT Learning Network even had had those educators featured respond to community comments and discuss their stance on cell phones, technology and backchanneling in the classroom.

The idea reminded me that often I spend all of my time before class determining “essential” questions and then trying to guide students through classroom discussions.  Regardless of whether or not students have engaged in the text or done the reading, these questions are still “my” questions.

Using Twitter or even Today’s Meet, similarly styled around 140 characters, as a means towards having everyone participate is an important first step.  However, this is still a world in which we “make” the questions.

So here’s the alternative.  After you’ve familiarized students with Twitter and even used it as a means of backchanneling during discussions or Socratic seminars give students a list of question types you want them to formulate.  As they read, make them responsible for creating questions via twitter. Read more

Novel & Unit Projects: Day Three

I have this tendency to want something incredibly creative from students as we end the study of a unit.  I want something bright, colorful, thoughtful, artistic.  I want to be blown away.  I forget the following: I’m no artist and most of them aren’t either.  Drawing always ends badly in my class.  Even though we long for something “creative” that spans multiple disciplines we still have a responsibility to have students consider motivation and purpose.

The New York Times ran an article about a high school student who curated a city-wide art show for teens.  The story was remarkable. It reminded me that often we do our students a disservice when we don’t make them reach.  They are capable.  This article reminded me of a synthesis question the AP Language and Composition exam used in 2007.  The premise of the prompt was that every single exhibition depends upon a series of “decisions” made by a curator. It is in this that we have the basis of an alternative project.  This project itself asks that students identify themes.  It’s particularly good for weightier works like The Grapes of Wrath, The Odyssey, All the King’s Men, MacBeth, The Poisonwood Bible, etc. The basic premise is that you want the novel or the characters or the unit to serve as the exhibition itself.  You will have students become “curators” for their own exhibition using the microblogging platform Tumblr.

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Novel & Unit Projects: Day Two

 

 I find it helps to organize books and units around one “principle.”  This principle will be modeled and practiced throughout the entirety of the unit from a variety of angles.  It’s always my goal to then have students “produce” that skill on their own or in small groups by the end of our study.  Today I’ll provide two different approaches. The options for today all focus on culminating activities that measure writing ability.

Idea #1

It seems to me that many of the books we give our students are meta “texts.”  Novels like To Kill a Mockingbird, All the King’s Men, even The Scarlet Letter include a series of speeches, sermons or courtroom arguments that have their own “life.”   Books that include other “texts” within them offer a range of opportunities for end projects.

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