Friday, April 10, 2015

Art of Composition--Found Poetry

Assignment #33 (for Friday April 10, Monday April 13):

First of all, what is "found poetry" and how does a writer go about creating one?
Read this article (at least the first 7 pages) for some instructions and a couple of examples:
Another example, from a story about a girl who loses her mother but remembers all the times she came home from school to smell her mother's cooking:
Read these for class 33 and bring a connected device. In class, we will work on locating prose sources for our found poems. Some from New York Times, at least one from another print source.
Here is the information for the New York Times found poetry contest, including the rules. We will write three different found poems, two of which will conform to the NYT rules, the third of which will come from another source.

Assignment #34 (due Tuesday April 14):

How to Write Found Poetry ( (Links to an external site.))
This page explains found poetry and how to write a poem using this exciting technique. At the bottom of the page, you'll find links to more creative writing lessons and tips.
How to write a found poem
A found poem uses language from non-poetic contexts and turns it into poetry. Think of a collage -- visual artists take scraps of newspaper, cloth, feathers, bottle caps, and create magic. You can do the same with language and poems.

Writing this type of poetry is a kind of treasure hunt. Search for interesting scraps of language, then put them together in different ways and see what comes out. Putting seemingly unrelated things together can create a kind of chemical spark, leading to surprising results.

You might end up rewriting the poem in the end and taking all the found language out, or you might keep the found scraps of language almost in their original form. Either way, found language is a great way to jolt your imagination.

There are no rules for found poetry, as long as you are careful to respect copyright.

Here are some potential sources of "treasure":
  • instruction books, recipes
  • horoscopes, fortune cookies
  • bulletin boards
  • science, math, or social science textbooks
  • dictionaries
  • graffiti
  • pieces of letters, post cards, phone messages, notes you've written for yourself
  • grocery lists, lists of all kinds
  • spam e-mails (Well, they've got to be good for something. But be careful not to click on any suspicious links!)

Click here for found poem examples (Links to an external site.) by the poet Al Fogel.
Try it! Found poem ideas
Here are some ideas you can use to write your own found poetry:

1) Take parts of instructions for some appliance such as a microwave. Replace some of the words that refer to the appliance, using that words that talk about something else. For example: "Lift the memory carefully. Caution: edges may be sharp..."

Suggested poem topics:

  • falling in love
  • trying to forget something painful

2) Write a poem called "Possible Side Effects." Use phrases from the instructions for some medication in your house, and combine these with language from another source, such as newspaper headlines, advertisements, a TV guide, or a mail-order catalogue. Put these two very different elements together and see what happens.

Spend today’s class gathering samples of language. Look in some of the sources suggested above. Read the found poem adapted from the Chang-Rae Lee short story (Links to an external site.). Make sure you have read the first 7 pages of the article linked in assignment #33. Also browse the New York Times for articles. Look for pieces of prose that contain strong or evocative language, or ones that can be adapted to reveal hidden sources of humor, or drama, or which can be rewritten in condensed form to reveal surprising connections.
The assignment for this unit is to write THREE pieces of found poetry over the next week. The first may come from any source, while the second and third must contain language drawn from articles found on the New York Times website. One of these last two will be submitted to the contest, while the first allows you to practice the form using material from any source you choose.
A draft of your first found poem is due in class next time, class 34, Tuesday April 14. Bring BOTH the original text and your adapted, condensed version. We will work on the other two next week. Rules for the contest are listed here (Links to an external site.).

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

AP group assignment

Importance of Being Earnest
The big picture

Form three-person groups. Each group must complete one of the options in part I and present a partially memorized scene from part II.

I.  Choose one of the following two topics. In your three-person group, locate at least three examples that support your position. Present to the class.

A.              In the play as a whole, Wilde is largely concerned with demonstrating the difference between conventional morality (what people are supposed to do or be) and actual morality (what people really do). Thus his characters demonstrate a code of behavior that represents the reality that Victorian social convention pretends to ignore.
B.              In an interview, Wilde said the play “has as its philosophy that we should treat all the trivial things of life seriously and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality.” Using THREE examples, show how this philosophy applies to ONE of the following in the play: death, politics, money, property, food, or marriage.
C.              The lovable scoundrel Algernon illustrates the author’s aesthetic principles by turning his life into a work of art.

We will present our oral "essays" in class #33 then move on to working with selected scenes, which will in turn be presented the following class. For purposes of organization and precision and to prevent randomness and vague improvising, you are encouraged to have a note card with your example and brief commentary about the relationship between your example and the position you wish to advance.

II.         Choose an excerpt of approximately two or three pages, preferably one that begins with a character’s entrance and ends with that or another character’s exit. Practice delivering the lines and prepare to present it to the class. You need not memorize the entire scene, but each member of the group must memorize at least ONE speech of at least 30 words. Presentations will take place during class #34.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

AP independent reading assignment

April 2015 Reading assignment
AP English

For this assignment, choose a book you have heard of but never had the time to read, a book you have heard everyone should read in high school, a book someone has recommended highly to you. But give this choice one particular thought: it should be a title of “literary merit,” one you could use with no embarrassment for the basis of an exam essay, one that might well be taught in an advanced high school or college literature course. The list below is a composite of different lists I have recommended over the years. Rule out anything you’ve already read, please. I’ve already ruled out novels over 500 pages, since I very much want you to complete this assignment on time. Suggest another title of “comparable literary merit” if you wish.

The assignment is to write a paper of approximately 4 pages in response to one of the prompts on this website. Yes, there are over 40 to choose from, but that means you should be able to find one that works. But read most of the book before you try to select a topic, please.

Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1984)
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (1847)
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (1847)
The Awakening, Kate Chopin (1899)
Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad (1900)
Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe (1721)
Hard Times, Charles Dickens (1854)
A Passage to India or Howard's End, E.M. Forster (1924, 1910)
Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy (1895)
Catch-22, Joseph Heller (1961)
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
Obasan, Joy Kogawa (1981)
Cry the Beloved Country, Alan Paton (1948)
Native Son, Richard Wright (1940)
Pat Barker, Regeneration (1991)
Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (1962)
Gustav Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1856)
Nadine Gordimer, July’s People (1981)
Graham Greene, The Quiet American (1955)
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932)
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (1989)
Yann Martel, Life of Pi (2002)
Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001)
George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
Barry Unsworth, Sacred Hunger (1992)
Edith Wharton, Age of Innocence (1920)
Reservation Blues, Sherman Alexie
Persuasion or Emma, Jane Austen
Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin
My Antonia; O Pioneers!, Willa Cather
As I Lay Dying,  William Faulkner
Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D. H. Lawrence
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
All the Pretty Horses or The Road, Cormac McCarthy
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates
The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
Native Son, Richard Wright

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

NY Times editorial contest

New York Times Student Editorial Contest           

Goal: To submit to and be published in the New York Times as part of their second annual student editorial contest.

Assignment: To write two editorials of 450 or fewer words and submit one of them online by March 9 7 AM EDT (4 AM MST—In other words, you must submit by Sunday evening, March 8). Your hard copies and drafts of both pieces are due to me March 9 or 10 depending on section.

Steps and resources:
1.     Identify topics or issues you care about, have opinions about, areas you would like to change, either in the larger world or closer to home. Think about areas of life, culture, gender, education, music, film you would change, controversies on which you have opinions, things you find yourself discussing or arguing with friends or family.

Read  301 Prompts for Argumentative Writing for ideas about the kinds of topics that make for good persuasive writing:

2.     Using one of these topics or one of your own, decide where you stand on the issue. Make two lists, one of reasons or arguments in favor of your opinion and a second list of opposing arguments (see handout).

3.     Look for evidence on both sides of your opinion. Read the New York Times for examples of editorials. Read the winning essays from last year’s contest. Use the search function of to locate articles related to a topic that interests you.  Contest rules specify that you MUST use AT LEAST one New York Times source in your editorial. Also, google  other reliable websites with useful information. AT LEAST ONE OTHER source must come from outside the New York Times (see contest rules here):

4.     Write two editorials. In the first take the position opposite to the one you believe. This exercise forces you to take seriously opposing arguments and will allow you to create stronger counter-arguments.

5.     Write your second editorial using your true position. Incorporate facts and expert opinion from your two sources, being sure to cite them accurately. Take a firm stand, argue against any strong points an opponent might make, and be as persuasive as you can in the space allotted.

6.     There will be class time for research, writing, peer review, and revision, but much of the research and writing will need to be done on your own, using the resources and methods outlined in the various handouts on The Learning Network. Stay focused, stay on schedule, and good luck.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sick day

I won't be with you today as I am home recuperating from a fever. (Congratulations, Claire, Gracie, and the rest of the team. I had to leave at halftime because I was feeling worse).

Everyone has work to do today. AP 1 & 2--your last quiz results were underwhelming. Average score 70% and that includes 3 free points. Otherwise it would have been 64%. Please spend the hour silently reading P&P. Take the vocab quiz first if it's available; otherwise we'll do it next time.

Art of Comp--keep working on your story. The other class had a work day yesterday after my ordeal at the dentist's office and you have one today. If you don't have a laptop, borrow one from the library or Madden Hall or a friend, bring it to the classroom, and work quietly on your story. 8 pages due Friday.

See you tomorrow.--LCC

Friday, January 23, 2015

AP--notes for submitting papers

Notes for submitting word search papers:
  1. Binders: A small (1") binder will do, or a clean folder with pockets, even a manila folder nicely organized. The first thing in the binder you submit will be the grading sheet with your name on it, then the final copy of your paper, then your draft, stamped by me and edited by two peers, and finally a section containing the annotated printouts of all your research materials with sources clearly indicated. Due in class Tuesday January 27 unless you have received an extension from me (those enrolled in both this class and Art of Composition and one or two others)
  2. Turnitin: Final drafts must also be submitted by that time to (assignment title: I-Search a Word).
  3. Style: Write your paper as a first-person account of your search for the ultimate meaning of your word. Use your sources to make your analysis of the word credible, but connect those sources to your personal quest for the word’s meaning, your previous understanding of the word, and what you learned along the way, both about the word and the research process. You should both summarize and analyze the information you gather from your sources in the body of the paper. Information should be cited parenthetically, linked to a properly formatted list of Works Cited at the end of your paper. If you use a Works Cited web site, pay attention to the details. Don't cite a 13th century manuscript for information you found on a web site.
  4. Sources & length: Pay proper attention to the lists of both required and suggested sources. Most papers in the past have cited between 8 and 15 sources. Length of the final draft will be approximately 5 to 7 pages, somewhere close to 2000 words. If you have more material and wish to go slightly longer, I will be happy as long as you are making your search for meaning interesting and lively.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Outline template for Word-Search papers

I-Search a Word: Outline template

(I also published this file on Canvas. I think. Let me know.)

The Beginning

Why I chose my word

What it means to me as I begin to search


The Middle

History and major meanings


Original (oldest) meanings

Evolution over time, significant use in Shakespeare, Bible, other pillars of English literature

Major changes, added meanings over time

Contemporary use and meanings

Most common modern dictionary definition(s)

Related words, major (most interesting) combining forms



Occurrences in art, music, journalism, fashion, politics, famous sayings, etc

Information that was brand new to me or even surprising; discoveries made along the way


The Ending

Most important, interesting things I learned

How my search expanded my understanding of a single word


I hope this template proves useful. Don’t follow it slavishly as a formula; adapt it creatively and individually to fit the larger patterns of meaning you have learned and the discoveries you have made along the way. If you are genuinely interested in what you are learning, the paper you write will be more interesting as a result.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Art of Composition essay

Art of Comp (Mr. Coon, w/ many thanks to Ms. Decker for ideas and wording)
Essay 1: Identity

Your first full essay of the semester will be your essay on Identity. Essentially, you are writing about yourself. However, you need to write about yourself in such a way that I (the reader) learn something about myself.

Consider: What is it about you that teaches me something about me?

So far, we have plumbed identity by exploring the following:
·      your name and its history and/or significance; your feelings about your name; others’ reactions to your name
·      the food you eat—your idiosyncrasies and obsessions, your rituals and indulgences, your history and your habits, your likes and dislikes
·      An activity you did for the first time and how its success or failure affected you.
·      A description of a place that has some meaning or significance to you
·      An early childhood memory and why it stays in your mind

My hope is that by now, you’re seeing some recurring words, themes, ideas, or questions “swimming under your boat.” We’re trying to circle in on those. The next task is to identify one central idea—an assertion or a question that is crucial to your identity and then write about it.

Of course, this central idea might be big, looming, fuzzy, or abstract. It might be difficult or painful to approach, much less write about, like:
            • love, or the want of it
            • belonging or not belonging to a group or a place
Of course, these “central ideas” don’t all have to be sob stories. Yours might be:
            • pride—in yourself, or where you come from
            • optimism—about where you’re headed

The point is, these are abstractions. It’s hard to sit down and just write about love or optimism or pride or belonging. Also, if you go too abstract and just write about the nature of love or optimism or pride or belonging—or whatever—the result is frequently so broad as to be boring to the reader.

That’s where you come in. What have you lived that tells us something new or unusual or unexpected about these universal experiences that we all share? We’ve all loved, for example, but what in your personal story tells us something new about love we may never have considered before?

If you’ve ever had a teacher tell you that you need a better conclusion, that your writing needs to pass the “so what?” test, this might be what he or she was talking about. We can’t have writing about lofty abstractions without something to ground it, to make it tactile and personal and real. And we don’t want writing about yourself that’s all about you—that’s called “navel gazing.” It’s inaccessible and boring at best and self-indulgent and offensive at worst.

So how do we figure out what you’ve really been writing about—writing at, writing around, writing toward—when you thought you were simply writing about your name and your food and your hobbies?

Step 1: Arrange your four pieces of writing in front of you. Have a highlighter or pen in hand. You’re going to go on a hunt for words or phrases that are common to all (or most) of your pieces. Hint: you’re not looking for “the,” “and,” or “I.” But you might be looking for:
            • proper nouns that pop up with frequency—for example, names of certain people or places. Make a list on a separate sheet of paper.
            • particularly powerful or evocative adjectives. For this one, I might suggest that you simply highlight any adjective that seems loaded and non-neutral and make a list. Then try grouping them into categories to find the running threads.

Step 2: Now look at your list or lists. Does anything emerge? If we wanted to get all psychoanalytic, for example, we might find meaning in a list like this:

Mom (6 occurrences)

OK, that’s a bad example of a good thing. But we can use it, at least for an example. Maybe this poor person really needs to write about her relationship with her mom. If she stops there, it’s therapy and it belongs in her diary. But if she says to herself, “what does my relationship with my mom tell me about mothering, about the place of maternal love in the world?” then she’s on to something.

Freewrite for 10-15 minutes about what you see in your lists and which central ideas seem to have potential. Try not to eliminate or even evaluate any ideas at this point, just point out what seems to be present in the Daily Writings you did and where you could go with it if you wanted to.

We’re going to start this today (in the lab) and it constitutes your homework. For next class, I want you to have steps 1 and 2 done and present in hard copy. This means you’ll also have printouts (highlighted, etc.) of your four Daily Writings, whether you started them in your journal or in electronic format.

Here are the specific, nuts-and-bolts details about this first essay.

Art of Comp Essay #1: Identity

• Double-spaced, single-sided, typed on 8.5x11 white paper
• Stapled in upper left corner
• Header (name, date, class, instructor name) in upper left corner
• Page numbers in upper right as follows: Last name, 1
• Title centered on line below header
• Traditional paragraph style (first line indented; start first paragraph on line below title)
• Traditional serif font (Times New Roman, Courier, Cambria) in black ink

• No specific length requirements but generally between 1,500 and 3,000 words is “fighting weight” for a personal essay like this.
• No magical “five paragraph essay” rule. Paragraphs are free: Use as many as you need and no more.

• First person is fine (and, probably, necessary). Yes, you can use “I.”
• Contractions, slang, etc.—all fine. Consider only audience, effect and effectiveness.

• This is not academic writing; you will not be using MLA style to cite from textbooks or academic journals. However, you must connect your experience to the experiences of others and/or culture at large, frequently depicted in media (which includes books, movies, television, etc.). So you will quote and/or paraphrase the work of others. Please use MLA endnote style to do this.
• Mandatory rough draft: January 22 & 23, whichever day you have class. Bring a clean, complete rough draft.
• Final due date: January 26 & 27, whichever day your section meets.
Your essay grade will go down one “notch” (A to A-minus, etc.) for each day that your paper is late after the due date.

• Spend some more time trolling through the “Modern Love” or “Lives” sections of (The New York Times website). Like the ones we looked at in class, these pieces are similar in content, purpose, and tone to what I'm asking you to do with this assignment.

Monday, January 12, 2015

AP--online resources for word searches

I-search resources

Biblos, a bible study tool. I suggest in particular comparing the King James (KJB) and Revised Standard (RSV) bibles to see if and where your word occurs.

Open source Shakespeare, an excellent way to search the plays for individual words.

One Look, a dictionary search engine listing all the online dictionaries in which a word appears. Useful for comparing different definitions. One of their links is for Noah Webster's original 1828 dictionary, the first distinctly "American" dictionary. Check it out.

American Verse Project, part of University of Michigan's vast array of online resources (Go Ohio State!). Its limitation is that it only cites American poems published prior to 1920 (still, very good for Whitman, Dickinson, Poe, John Greenleaf Whittier, other 19th century American poets.)

A slightly facetious, but perhaps useful site called word detective.

An online etymological dictionary, not a scholarly work, but a fascinating project being done by an ambitious amateur.

The Middle English Dictionary, another (gulp!) resource from University of Michigan.

Dr. Samuel Johnson's 1755 dictionary.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Extended definition of a word

AP English      January 2015      Extended definition assignment

Assignment: Write a paper of 5 to 7 pages containing an extended definition of a single word (see, a commonly used word, but one with an abstract or intangible quality to its meaning. While the primary purpose of the essay is to provide information about the history and range of uses of your word, you may also choose to include personal experiences that provide connections for you with the larger meaning of the word.

Sources: Consult the following sources to include all the necessary information in your paper. Not every word will appear in every source, but you should make photocopies of all the information you gather.
1.     The Oxford English Dictionary (20 volume 2nd edition) in our library—what are the earliest uses and contexts for your word recorded in the English language? What meanings have evolved over time? Which uses are now obsolete? Which ones match your understanding of your word? Which contain surprises?
2.     Webster’s Third International Dictionary (3 volumes) in our library—what key definitions, examples, and other information does the dictionary give for the word? How is the information organized differently from the OED?
3.     Either or both of the following: Samuel Johnson’s 1755 dictionary (available online) or Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary (available through
4.     A dictionary of etymology, either online or in our library. How does its information compare to that of the OED?
5.     A print or online thesaurus—what are the most important synonyms for your word? Include a list from the thesaurus in the sources section of your folder.
6.     A Concordance to Shakespeare—how frequently does your word occur? Copy a few key speeches containing the word and the plays in which they are found. Give an example of an interesting or original way in which Shakespeare uses the word.
7.     A Concordance to the Bible—list the most important verses containing the word and copy these verses onto a page in your sources section. How do they help you understand the full significance of your word? Pay special attention to the Authorized or King James Version of 1611 (KJV). Compare a key verse to that of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of 1946.
8.     A statement of what the word means to you, both before and after you conduct your research.
9.     Optional sources to round out your understanding: a dictionary of slang, a poem in which the word occurs, a citation from an online quotations list, a work of art or music, a book about words and language, a work of history, a newspaper article, cartoon, television show, or movie.

Process: Gather your findings in a binder. The first thing in the binder you submit will be the final copy of your paper, then your draft, edited by two peers, and a section containing the annotated printouts of all your research materials with sources clearly indicated.

Rationale: According to Edward Jenkinson and Donald Seybold, “it is extremely difficult for anyone to define a word that does not have objective [meaning]. Yet the ideas, feelings, and emotions that are most significant in our lives are conveyed [by such words]. . . .Everyone who uses such words as freedom, rich, or love has slightly different notions about what those words mean, [yet] we frequently act as if we are talking about the same thing when we use such words.” Thus, this assignment is to sift through our assumptions about one abstract word to find relevant historical information about its uses and meanings throughout the history of the English language.

·       Have your word chosen and approved by me by the beginning of class 3 (January 12, preferably sooner).  Everyone must have a different word.
·       We will spend parts of two classes in the library looking at the OED and other source material.
·       Your journal for class 4 will include your previous understanding of the word along with a brief summary of what you have learned so far in your research. It may be incorporated in some fashion into your draft the following week.
·       Class 8 (January 23 & 26), bring your drafts to class, five pages minimum.
·       Binders are due in class 9, January 27. Final drafts must also be submitted by that time to (assignment title: I-Search a Word).

Style: Write your paper as a first-person account of your search for the ultimate meaning of your word. Use your sources to make your analysis of the word credible, but connect those sources to your personal quest for the word’s meaning, your previous understanding of the word, and what you learned along the way, both about the word and the research process. You should both summarize and analyze the information you gather from your sources in the body of the paper. Information should be cited parenthetically, linked to a properly formatted list of Works Cited at the end of your paper.

Words: I’ve brainstormed over 100 words, but you may suggest a word not on this list, as long as it meets the requirements stated above. Everyone must have a different word. Here is my list:

·       Anger
·       Atonement
·       Beauty
·       Belief
·       Bliss
·       Brave
·       Burden
·       Calm
·       Chance
·       Chaos
·       Charity
·       Charm
·       Confusion
·       Courage
·       Courtesy
·       Cruel
·       Cunning
·       Curious
·       Curse
·       Darkness
·       Despair
·       Destiny
·       Doom
·       Doubt
·       Envy
·       Evil
·       Faith
·       Fame
·       Fate
·       Fear
·       Fortune
·       Freedom
·       Friend
·       Generous
·       Genius
·       Glee
·       Glory
·       Glutton
·       Good
·       Grace
·       Greatness
·       Greed
·       Guile
·       Guilt
·       Happiness
·       Hatred
·       Heart
·       Holy
·       Honor
·       Hope
·       Human
·       Idea
·       Ignorant
·       Illusion
·       Imagination
·       Inspiration
·       Jealousy
·       Journey
·       Joy
·       Justice
·       Kindness
·       Knowledge
·       Love
·       Loyalty
·       Luck
·       Lust
·       Mercy
·       Mind
·       Miracle
·       Natural
·       Normal
·       Pain
·       Passion
·       Patriot
·       Peace
·       Pride
·       Quest
·       Rational
·       Reality
·       Reason
·       Redemption
·       Revenge
·       Riches
·       Righteous
·       Romance
·       Sacrifice
·       Savage
·       Serene
·       Shame
·       Sin
·       Sorrow
·       Soul
·       Spirit
·       Sublime
·       Success
·       Terror
·       Trust
·       Truth
·       Valor
·       Vanity
·       Wealth
·       Weird
·       Wisdom
·       Wonder

What word interests you sufficiently to spend two weeks researching and writing about its history and most important meanings? After we review this assignment during  class 1 for both sections, I will accept requests for words beginning after lunch Wednesday January 7.. By class 2 (January 8), everyone must have selected a word to work with.