Friday, August 29, 2008

AP--For Tuesday September 2

Find a brief passage in Pride and Prejudice, not from the opening chapter, which illustrates a significant principle of Jane Austen's style and which contains a theme or idea important to the novel. Annotate your passage in your copy of the novel and come to class prepared to share your discussion of the passage, both its relationship to Austen's style and its significance to some principle of form in the novel as a whole.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Revising a blog


1. Look at the blog entry you’ve chosen for the idea that you can develop into an essay of several paragraphs. It may or may not be the topic most addressed in the blog, but it should be one which forms a considerable part of your blog discussion and which you think you can develop further in essay form.

2. Rewrite the current opening statement or write a new, brief opening paragraph. Keep your opening concise, identify the focus of the essay, and, at the end of the paragraph, make a clear, specifically worded statement of thesis, the interpretive idea whose validity you wish to prove in the essay.

3. Look at the middle paragraphs of your blog entry. Are they too long? Too short? If they don’t already begin with sentences that state ideas rather than facts, add clear topic sentences that relate to your thesis. Check within each of those middle paragraphs for a balance between specific textual evidence, preferably both examples and brief quotations, and your own commentary designed to identify the significance of your evidence and fully develop the depth of each paragraph. Finally, make sure each of these middle paragraphs helps support the validity of your thesis.

4. Check your final paragraph. Make sure it does not simply repeat what you have already stated. Draw a conclusion from the evidence you’ve presented. Save your most important idea, the one everything else in your essay leads up to, for last.

5. Last but certainly not least, read all your sentences out loud for clarity and clutter. Have you expressed your biggest ideas in simple words? Have you taken out who, which, and that whenever possible? Are you varying the length of your sentences, alternating complex and compound sentences with simple ones? Does the punctuation of your sentences help make them clearer and more meaningful? Have you caught the spelling mistakes spellcheck won’t catch?

Friday, August 22, 2008

English IV Assignments weeks 1-3

English IV—World Literature
Mr. Coon, Mr. Campbell, Ms. Decker
Schedule of Assignments
August—Sep, 2008

Note: Assignments are DUE on the day indicated.

Week 1: August 25—29
Day 1. First day—welcome, syllabus, blog intro, assignments
Day 2. Set up account with Google Reader (see “how to start a blog,”); write the letter indicated in the instructions after you establish your blog; vocabulary intro (bring books)—
Day 3. Print blog entry, bring to class for discussions and workshop (blog to essay in five easy steps); begin peer review
Day 4. Continue peer review; begin revision and re-writing of draft 2

Week 2: September 2—5—No classes Monday (Labor Day)
Day 1. Essays due, both hard copy and; introduction to tragedy
Day 2. Read Antigone, pp. 14 to 32 (to line 593 “enter Ismene”)
Day 3. Antigone, pp. 32-44, to line 1034; vocab quiz 1, lessons 1-3 (quiz for section 1 only)
Day 4. (Campbell/Decker only)—vocab quiz 1, lessons 1-3 + Antigone activity (TBA)

Week 3: September 8—12
1. Antigone, finish reading to page 57
2. Read “Torn Lace,” pp. 73--77
3. Read “War,” pp. 79-82
4. Writing activity TBA; bring vocab books to preview lessons 4, 5, & 6

AP--August-October assignments

English IV—Advanced Placement World Literature
Mr. Coon
Schedule of Assignments
August—October, 2008

Note: All assignments are DUE for the class day listed.

Week 1: August 25—29
Day 1: First day—welcome, syllabus, blog intro, assignments
Day 2: Set up account with Google Reader (see “how to start a blog,” on; write the letter indicated in the instructions after you establish your blog; vocabulary intro (bring books); Introduction to close reading
Day 3: Bring Pride & Prejudice; continue introduction to close reading
Day 4: Quiz 1—Multiple choice (15 minutes); close reading exercise

Week 2: September 2—5—No classes Monday (Labor Day)

Day 1: Discussion of passages
Day 2: Discussion of Pride and Prejudice; introduce short story presentations & roles
Day 3: Essay due on Pride and Prejudice; vocab quiz 1 (lessons 1-3)

Week 3: September 8—12
1: "A Rose For Emily" (28) (passage and essay-LCC; no commenters)
2: "Everyday Use" (p.443)
3: "Teenage Wasteland" (35)
4: "Interpreter of Maladies" (p. 579); Multiple choice quiz 2

Week 4: September 15—19
1: "A & P" (p. 14); blogs due
2: "Revelation" (368)
3: "A Good Man is Hard to Find" (p.358)
4: "Cathedral" (p. 98); Vocab quiz 2 (lessons 4-6)

Week 5: September 22—26
1: "The Five Forty-Eight" (p. 503); blogs due
2: "Battle Royal" (p. 526)
3. "Shiloh" (p. 604)
4: "The Yellow Wallpaper" (p. 424); Multiple choice quiz 3

Week 6: September 29—October 3
1: "Greasy Lake "(p. 129); blogs due
2: "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" (p. 613)
3. "I Stand Here Ironing" (p. 637);
4: "The Things They Carried" (p. 625); vocab quiz 3 (lessons 7-9)

Week 7: October 6—9—No school Friday (Fall Break)
1: Drafts of papers due in class; no blogs due
2. Peer editing of short story papers
WED: Papers due for selected short stories; no quiz

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Headings, formats, and style tips

HEADINGS FOR PAPERS—Always head your papers with the following information:

  • Your name,
  • Course and section number (AP -3, for example)
  • Turnitin receipt number,
  • Word count (your word processing program should perform this last task for you automatically).

  • Use 12-point font
  • Choose a font with serifs (Times New Roman, for example)
  • Set 1 inch margins all round
  • Give your paper a title which indicates its subject; when writing about literature, give more than just the name of the text you are writing about.
  • Double space text
  • For quotations of FIVE lines or longer, block the passage with one and one-half inch margins and single spacing.
  • Remember to put novel and play titles in italics, poem and short story titles in quotation marks, and to give your paper a title different from the literary work it discusses.
  • Use American spelling and usage: double quotation marks, not single; toward, not towards; judgment, not judgement; gray, not grey; honor, not honour, and so on.
  • Avoid "naked" pronouns: this, that, which.
  • Whenever possible, omit who, which, and that--make the relative clause either the main clause or a participial phrase.
  • Simplify your language; use everyday words to express important ideas.
  • Omit unnecessary words from your sentences, unnecessary sentences from your paragraphs, unnecessary paragraphs from your essays. Be studious of brevity.
  • Whenever you face a choice between a general term and a specific word, opt for the latter.

How to Start a Blog 2008

Go to You should be automatically directed to their start page. Follow the "three easy steps" :
--Create your account using your PCDS e-mail account and password (use the same account and password for your account). Since your blog will only be read by me and by your classmates, please use your first and last name as your display name; that way I always know whose blog I'm reading and you get credit for having written it.
--Name your blog. Whatever you like, but it's a school assignment, so be appropriate, please. For your blog's url, use firstname-lastname so that we may find each other's blogs easily during the year.
--Select a template for your blog. Pick whichever one you like, with one condition. My eyes are getting older and I can't read black or dark backgrounds, so please don't choose one of those templates.

After you create your template, click "start posting" to go to the editing page of your blog. From there, you have one more crucial task. Click the Settings tab, then the e-mail tab. Type my e-mail address in the box marked "BlogSend": ( After I have an RSS feed for your blog, I’ll ask you to turn this setting off. But to get started you need to include this step or you may not receive credit for your blog entries. (Be sure to click "Save Settings" before closing this tab.)

When you have completed these steps, click the "Posting" tab and create your first blog entry.

For AP English: Write your first blog about the reading you did this summer. I’m interested not only in the books you chose from my recommendations but also any books you read on your own. Include a list of any books you have read since the beginning of June, both titles and authors, and then write a short piece about ONE of the titles you read. Pick the one that made the strongest impression on you, or the one you enjoyed the most, or the one that stayed with you the longest after you read it. Here is a link to such a piece, one I wrote last summer after I read Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road. As you write, remember to be as specific as you can in your language, your reasons, your examples.

For English IV: Write a blog about the book you chose from the grade 12 Summer Reading List. If you read more than one title from the list, choose the one that made the strongest impression on you. In your blog (500 words or so), identify which aspects of the novel are most prominent, which ones go the furthest to explain the impression the book made on you. Was it an idea, a character who seemed particularly lifelike, a relationship, the ambiguity of the book's ending or meaning, something about the writer's style? Your blog will serve as the first draft of a paper to be turned in next week, so give some thought to identifying and discussing those elements of the book which are most notable.

I recommend that you write, edit, spell-check, and word-count your letter on a word document then paste it into the box on the posting page of your blog. When you're done, give it a title, click the orange button marked "publish post," and voila!—you have created your first blog entry (436).

Syllabus 2008--English IV & AP

English IV Syllabus
Mr. Coon; Fall, 2008

I. Goals

In the courses which comprise English IV, we seek to expose members of the senior class to significant pieces of literature from the world tradition. The required semester selection of world authors includes pieces from the classical Mediterranean world, Asia, Africa, South America, and Continental Europe. Canonical authors such as Sophocles, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Kafka, Tolstoy, Achebe, and Solzhenitsyn provide depth and balance to the assigned material. Authors and works are chosen with an eye toward providing significant intellectual, esthetic, moral, and literary challenges to readers. Each course asks students to read and think carefully, to listen and discuss, and to develop their language skills, especially in writing, critical reading, vocabulary, and English usage.

II. Readings

World Literature (first semester)
1. World Literature , Donna Rosenberg (editor)
2. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
3. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Alexander Solzhenitsyn
4. selected novel(s) for summer reading

Advanced Placement World Literature (two semesters)
1. Literature: An Introduction, (10th edition) X. J. Kennedy & Dana Gioia, editors
2. Waiting for the Barbarians, J. M. Coetzee
3. The Sound and the Fury , William Faulkner
4. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
5. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (summer reading)
6. selected novels for summer reading and 2 additional papers

African-American Literature (second semester)
1. Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America, James Oliver Horton & Lois E. Horton
2. Black Boy, Richard Wright
3. Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
4. Fences, August Wilson
5. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

Shakespeare (second semester); team taught with Mr. Burns
1. Hamlet
2. As You Like It
3. The Merchant of Venice

III. Additional texts
1. Vocabulary for Achievement, 6th course
2. Write with Pride—Abandon Prejudice: A Style Manual for English IV (available online at

IV. Written work
The primary forum for written work is your blog. You are required to post weekly blog entries relating to the literature studied in the classroom. Your blogs will receive a grade, accounting for 30% of each quarter’s grade. Blog entries should be approximately 500 words in length (please indicate word count in parentheses at the end of each entry). I will not, however, grade by length alone; rather, quantity will be one of four criteria, along with regularity of entries, style, and originality of content. Instructions about creating and posting blog entries may be found on my blog at
Occasionally I will ask you to respond to particular prompts or questions on my blog, but often there is no set topic for your weekly entries. Rather, I ask you to find an element of the assigned reading that interests you and discuss it thoughtfully. This comment may take many forms, a few of which are suggested here:
• Discuss a character’s actions, words, personality, moral values, or humanity.
• Comment on the writer’s style, use of language, tone, irony, or imagery.
• Consider a topic or idea raised in class discussion, trying to go beyond what has already been stated.
• Raise and discuss a question about the text under consideration.
• Discuss the importance or meaning of a key passage or scene from the reading.
• For longer works, show how a scene or passage develops a theme or pattern identified in class.
• Make a comparison between a scene, character, or idea from the literature and something from another source or from your own experience
• Use an idea from my blog or from that of one of your classmates as a point of departure for your response.
• Locate relevant research material on the web, post a link to the site on your blog, and discuss your choice.

In all cases, your goals are to demonstrate close, careful reading of assigned texts, challenge yourself to creative, original thinking, and develop your fluency as a writer. In addition to blog entries, several times each semester, I will assign papers, either revisions of blog entries or interpretations of asigned novels, plays, poems, or stories. Your papers will account for another 30% of your grade.

IMPORTANT: HEADINGS FOR PAPERS—Always head your papers with the following information: your name, date, turnitin receipt number, and word count (your word processing program should perform this last task for you automatically).

In addition to submitting hard copies of your papers this year, you are required to submit electronic copies of all papers to These instructions will help you submit your papers. Use the same e-mail address and password for that you use for your account at
• On your web browser, go to Register as a new user or login to the personal home page you created last year. You must give your e-mail address and a personal password which contains both letters and numbers to register. Click “student” as your user type. Give whatever other information may be necessary as you move through the required fields.
• When you reach your personal home page, click “join new class.” Then enter a class ID and a class enrollment password. For AP students, the class ID is 1598905 and the password pcdsap; for World Literature students (non-AP) the class ID is 1875359 and the password is pcdswl. Click “submit” when you finish. N.B: You only need to complete this step once.
• Then submit your paper. When you click on the class title, you will go to the class history page. Click on the word “submit” in the middle navigation bar. Enter the title of your paper and select the assignment with the correct date from the pull down menu. Assignments are listed by the title of the work and the date an assignment is due.

• After entering your title and selecting the correct assignment, paste your essay into the box marked “main text.” (In my experience, the copy and paste method works better than the upload method. You may, of course, find otherwise). You may ignore the boxes marked abstract and bibliography unless otherwise instructed. When your paper has been pasted into the “main text” box, click “submit.”
• Remember to put your digital receipt number on the assignment before you give it to me. Otherwise your assignment will be marked late and penalized accordingly.

VI. Participation and attendance
• Class discussion is a crucial part of the course. Therefore, it is imperative that we all treat one another with respect and behave in such a way as to contribute to, not disrupt, an atmosphere conducive to maximum learning.
• Participation in class is mandatory. I understand that the introverts have difficulty speaking in front of your peers and me; nevertheless, I expect you to contribute meaningfully to class activities and discussions. You must come to class having done the reading assigned and be prepared to discuss the material, answer questions, venture informed opinions, and articulate personal responses.
• Participation grades are assigned as follows and account for 20% of your grade in the class: "A" students are fully engaged, on time with the necessary books and supplies. They display obvious enthusiasm for the tasks of the class: reading, talking, listening, working in a group, thinking about a problem. "B" students' engagement varies slightly, sometimes at "A" level, sometimes not. "C" students are generally involved but with noticeable lapses. They may arrive late to class or frequently forget materials. They spend time on things other than the work at hand: chatting with friends, doing homework for another class, catching up on sleep, or staring off in space. "D" students exhibit these behaviors to an even greater degree, becoming a distraction to the work of the class, having a negative impact on the group's ability to get its work done, regularly coming to class unprepared.
• The first six excused absences each semester, not including those for School business (athletic competitions, class trips, performances, field trips, etc) will not be penalized. The seventh, ninth, and eleventh absences will result in a one-third letter grade penalty in your participation and attendance grade, and the thirteenth will result in a participation grade no higher than D for the semester. Latenesses to class, including leaving the room to find a book or go to the restroom, will result in penalties on weekly quizzes.

VII. Vocabulary
• Three new lessons in the vocabulary book are assigned every other week. We will look briefly at the new words during the first class of the week, so please bring your books to that session. Quizzes will take place the first 10 minutes of class on alternate Fridays unless otherwise notified.
• For first semester, we will cover lessons 1-18; for the second, lessons 19-30. Quizzes will contain all 30 words from the three lessons.
• Missed vocabulary quizzes must be made up at your earliest possible convenience. After one week, barring extraordinary circumstances, missing scores will be entered as zeroes.

VIII. Grading policy

• Grades are determined on a point system in which each assignment is weighted by the number of points it contains. Points will be totaled at the end of each quarter and semester and grades determined in accordance with the percentages contained in your student handbook.
• Grades from individual assignments are then weighted into categories as follows: blogs (30%), papers (30%), vocabulary and quizzes (20%), participation and attendance (20%).
• Assignments are due at the beginning of class. Work turned in during or after class is considered late and will be penalized. Late work is eligible for a score no higher than 75%, depending on the quality of the assignment and the degree of lateness. If you are absent the day an assignment is due, either have a classmate turn it in or fax the assignment to the Upper School office (602-224-6177).
• Students who miss quizzes or tests because of excused absence must make arrangements for make-up immediately upon returning to school. Missing work (quizzes or assignments never turned in or made up) will result in an incomplete grade for the quarter or semester.
• Any student who establishes a clear pattern of failing to complete the assigned reading according to the prescribed schedule will receive a semester grade of D or F, regardless of that student’s scores on other assignments. Repeated missing or poor written work, failed quizzes or tests, or the inability to supply basic factual information in class will be taken as signs of not reading.
• All assignments must be completed in accordance with the school’s honesty policy. See your handbook for details and be certain you know the difference between plagiarism and acceptable use of source material.

X. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Group 1—Questions to which the answer is “yes” (often because you asked):
• Will this assignment be graded?
• Will this be on the test?
• Does this count very much?
• Do we need to know this?
• Was I supposed to send this to
• Do we need our books today?
• May I go to a college meeting during class period tomorrow?

Group 2—Questions to which the answer is “no” (generally as a matter of policy):
• Is it OK if I’m a few minutes late to class today?
• May I use the restroom?
• Should I go get my book from my car?
• I didn’t get a chance to read last night. Is it all right if I turn this in tomorrow?
• May I go to a college meeting today?

Group 3—Other questions
• What’s the best way for me to improve my grade in this class? (A: Spend more time on your blog and on your papers AFTER you write them.)
• Will you look at my college essay? (A: Yes, but I need 24 hours to get it back to you)
• I’m a very quiet person by nature. How can I improve my participation? (A: When something comes up that interests you or that you thought about while you were reading, make a point to say something brief. Keep doing that. Over time it will get easier as you expand your comfort zone.)
• What kind of people do best in English class? (A: Those who like to read, those who can write clearly, those who think about the meaning of what they read, those who stay on top of their day-to-day responsibilities, those who come to class prepared, those who volunteer information and ideas during class discussions.)

XI. Contact information
• In person—room 311. Stop by to talk or ask a question anytime I’m free. My schedule is posted on the door of my classroom. To make up a quiz, go over an assignment, a speech draft, or a college essay, please make an appointment first.
• By voice-mail—602-956-0253 x4296
• By fax—602-224-6177
• By e-mail—

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Solzhenitsyn obituary

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, one of the best-known and most important literary figures of the past half-century, died in Moscow in early August. Since we are reading his first and most famous novel this semester, I wanted to include a link to a lengthy but informative obituary from the New York Times. Please read this tribute to a great writer's career and bring your questions and observations to class.