I met Thomas Tutt at an AP conference in Frisco, Texas in November. He encorporated his favorite musical artist into his classroom by designing a Can of Worms quiz based on the lyrics of Leonard Cohen. Check out his email below. I used his idea to make a quiz for Invisible Man this week, borrowing lyrics from Mos Def's "Hip Hop." Thanks, Thomas.
I was at your panel on Literature circles a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed your "can of worms" quiz idea. I'll be using it for Invisible Man when the kids come back from break, and I thought I'd share a question I came up with for it:
Which of the following quotes from Leonard Cohen best describes your protagonist at this point in the story? Explain why.
A. “But he himself was broken long before the sky would open, forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone ” (from “Suzanne”)
B. "When it all comes down to dust, I will kill you if I must; I will love you if I can” (from “The Story of Isaac”)
C. “If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game. If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame. If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame.” (from “You Want it Darker”)
D. “Everybody knows that the fight was fixed: the poor stay poor and the rich get rich. That’s how it goes: everybody knows.” (from “Everybody knows”)
I'll let you know how it goes!
#3 Group or Partner Poem—Work on Timing/Juxtaposition/Parallelism
“The Speakers” by Weldon Keys http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-speakers/
Button Poetry—“The Friend Zone,” “The Origin Story”
#4 Sonnet—Write a modern sonnet
Florida Doll Sonnet
Denise Duhamel, 1961
by I love Fresh Market but always feel underdressed
squeezing overpriced limes. Louis Vuitton,
Gucci, Fiorucci, and all the ancient East Coast girls
with their scarecrow limbs and Joker grins.
Their silver fox husbands, rosy from tanning beds,
steady their ladies who shuffle along in Miu Miu’s
(not muumuus) and make me hide behind towers
of handmade soaps and white pistachios. Who
knew I’d still feel like the high school fat girl
some thirty-odd years later? My Birkenstocks
and my propensity for fig newtons? Still, whenever
I’m face to face with a face that is no more real
than a doll’s, I try to love my crinkles, my saggy
chin skin. My body organic, with no preservatives.
#1 Write from the point of view of a famous character.
“Gertrude Talks Back” by Margaret Atwood –short story
Button Poetry—“To JK Rowlings from Cho Chang”
#2 Personify an abstraction/use concrete details to make an abstraction real (Poems about Love, Freedom, Courage)
Button Poetry—“When Love Arrives,” “How to Love Your Introvert,” “OCD”
John Donne—“The Flea”
One of the students shared this with us today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltun92DfnPY
Shane Koyczan also has a TED Talk.
Going crazy trying to keep up with quizzing students over all these independent novels, I've found a way to quiz, ensuring students are reading, while avoiding the task of writing seven different quizzes each weak. It's the open-ended quiz. My neighbor Matt Taylor (Ridge Point HS) and my good friend Glenys McMennamy (Clements HS) helped me develop some questions that fit any situation.
Questions to Ask on Generic Quizzes
1. Which one of these poetry quotes connects most strongly to your book so far? Explain.
A. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
B. “Water, water, every where,/And all the boards did shrink;/Water, water, every where,/Nor any drop to drink.” (“Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Coleridge)
C. “When can their glory fade?/O the wild charge they made!/All the world wonder’d./Honour the charge they made!/Honour the Light Brigade,/Noble six hundred!” (“Charge of the Light Brigarde,” Tennyson)
D. “My little horse must think it queer/To stop without a farmhouse near/Between the woods and frozen lake/The darkest evening of the year.” (“Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Robert Frost)
2. To your protagonist, what would be the worst outcome of the plot? Explain.
3. Motif (or motive) is defined in A Handbook to Literature as “recurrent images, words, objects, phrases or actions that tend to unify the work.” Motif is often associated with leitmotif which “tends to unify a work through its power to recall earlier occurrences.”
Select a reoccurring symbol or motif. Describe its use in the work and how it has affected meaning.
4. Which poem we read in class best resembles your book in content, tone, or theme? Explain.
5. Assume the role of your protagonist’s psychologist, what is your diagnosis and recommended therapy. Why?
6. According to A Handbook to Literature, a conflict is “the struggle that grows out of the interplay of two opposing forces.” One of these opposing forces “is usually a person.” What character seems to be generating the most conflict for your character at this point in the novel?
7. Which of the following quotes best describes your protagonist at this point in the story? Explain why.
A. “You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will live as one.”
― John Lennon
B. “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
― Bertrand Russell
C. “Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”
― William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
D. “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
― Maya Angelou
8. If you were a character in this work, who would you be and why?
9. If your character were you today, what would they do differently?
10. Analyze your main character’s relationship with his family and friends.
11. Author Katherine Mansfied says, “How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you — you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences — like rags and shreds of your very life.” Explain how this quote affects the characters in your novel.
12. Who is the sanest person in this book? Explain why.
13. So far in the novel, how has the protagonist lied to himself and why?
14. How does the author use the protagonist as a device for social criticism?
15. Compare the conflict (or social criticism) of a poem we’ve read to the conflict (or social criticism) examined in the novel? Compare and contrast the different philosophical outlooks of the poet and the author.
16. If the protagonist of your novel was re-cast as an antagonist, who or what would the character be working against and why?
17. Authors frequently play with time and revealing details to add suspense through non-chronological storytelling and flashbacks. Choose one essential scene from your novel and discuss how moving its placement in the novel would substantially alter the work as a whole.
Started independent novel unit today. Students selected from the following:
1. The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
3. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
4. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
5. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
6. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
7. The Round House by Louis Erdrich
I've divided up the novels into four parts and assigned due dates:
Part I finish by Thursday, March 24 Quiz
Part II finish by Wednesday, March 30 (Quiz on Friday, March 31)
Part III finish by Monday, April 4
Test on April 8
Quizzes will be in the can-of-worms format. Can-of-worms originated as an oral quiz. Students would, upon being called randomly, select a slip of paper with a topic from the novel we were reading. Students were then expected to discuss the topic with knowledge that indicated that they had read and understood the work. (The slips of paper looked like worms.) Unfortunately, it takes almost three days to go through a real can-of-worms so now I pull the topics, and the class, as a whole, write as much as they know about the topic and connect back to the meaning of the work as a whole.
I used an opening exercise inspired by the San Antonio conference yesterday. I first began with a game using the first lines of books the students have read. Students identified the works and recalled the themes and their correlation to the first lines of the novels. Then, I copied the first page of each novel available to them. Students read and analyzed diction and syntax without knowing the title or author, and then we predicted themes. We'll go back to our predictions later, but the things the students said in class were incredibly accurate.
I recently attended a two-day workshop at the San Antonio Marriott. It was awesome: knowledgeable presenters and nice accommodations. While there, I picked up this little acronym from AP Consultant Judith Nevil to help students with introductions. HATMAT.
M-MAIN IDEA OR CHARACTER
A-ATTITUDE (author's attitude about his subject)
I tried it this week with good results.
Next year, I don't think I'll allow students to create a PowerPoint presentation. Several students read off the slides despite warnings to make eye contact and speak conversationally to the audience. The PowerPoints were helpful in that they provided something for the other students to copy down and demonstrated what the analysis looked like in paragraph form, but the slides are too much of a temptation. Students who didn't rely on the screen were much more effective in generating discussions.
Today students will read four longer works of poetry to determine which they will select for a research paper. I've chosen "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg, "The Hollow Men" by T.S. Eliot, "Ulysses" by Alfred Lord Tennyson, and "Home Burial" by Frost, mainly because they all have literary criticism available to students through the Gale and EBSCO databases. I've made a classroom set of the four poems and I've allowed students to use their phones today. I sent links through Remind to the audio versions of each or most of them. I didn't find audio for "The Hollow Men," but it probably wouldn't be hard to find.
"Home Burial" reading on Youtube
"Howl" read by Ginsberg also on Youtube
"The Hollow Men" no audio but some weird art work
"Ulysses" at The Poetry Foundation (I love The Poetry Foundation!)
On the board, I've listed the four poems. At the end of the day the students will write their name under the poem of their choice. Their choice today does not lock-in their ultimate decision on which poem will be the topic of their paper, but the act of committing today does emphasize a sense of urgency.
.illustration of "The School" by Joshua in 5th Period 2016
It's February and after reading two plays and writing some Question 3 essays, we need to work on prose analysis again... so I've compiled this collection of intriguing short shorts for my AP English Literature class. Students will spend one day reading and annotating the stories. Then, I will place the students in groups and assign each group a story on which to focus their analysis. The idea is that the group will present a 10-minute paper. (I just made that up--The 10-Minute Paper. But it's working pretty well. No essays to grade.) Each member of the group needs to contribute, say something insightful, and do something other than read off a sheet of paper or PowerPoint slide.
The idea is that the group will present a thesis and two body paragraphs, including topic sentences and textual support. Every member of the group needs to contribute commentary or interpretation.
The short story collection includes Annie Proulx's "55 Miles to the Gas Pump," Donald Barthelme's "The School," "Everything is Green" by David Foster Wallace, "Birthday Party" by Katherine Brush, "Popular Mechanics" by Raymond Carver, "The Eclipse" by Augusto Monterroso, "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, and finally Bonnie Jo Campbell's "The Sleep-over." "Birthday Party" was on the 2005 AP Literature Exam.
Presentations last a little longer than 10 minutes, especially since I'm awarding points to members of the audience who ask questions. When the whole class poses questions to the group presenting, interesting conversations happen, but presentations do slow down.
Following the presentations, each individual can submit a paper or instructors can save one of the short shorts for a cold timed writing. This year I'm not going to do either. Too tired.
Vocabulary and Skills: Prose analysis, thesis, topic sentences, dark humor, burlesque.
Collection of Short Shorts
Rubric for Presentation Grade
I teach AP English Literature and dual-credit English at Ridge Point High School in Missouri City, Texas.