Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beowulf links

A couple of sites with a wealth of information on Old English and the Beowulf epic:

The first, by Syd Allan, contains information on many topics related to the study of Old English literature and Beowulf in particular.

The second, by Benjamin Slade, contains, among other things, a dual-language translation of the poem, allowing us to see each line in comparison with the original Anglo-Saxon text.

Also, YouTube contains many videos, from those done by earnest amateurs to movie trailers to more scholarly presentations.

These are resources which can be explored for the purpose of creating short oral presentations in class.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blog tips

1. Locate and use the return key. After having plowed my way through several 500-word long paragraphs, I want to say how readers enjoy consuming ideas in nice bite-size paragraphs rather than having the entire three-course meal stuffed down our throats in a single mouthful. (Blogger's formatting doesn't always recognize tab indents, so I'd even suggest a double return between paragraphs to make the divisions clearer.)

2. Put word count in parentheses at the end of your entry.

3. Keep working to create your own voice. I'm enjoying reading your early posts, and I'll enjoy them even more as you work on sounding like the authentic, intelligent self you are and not what you think I want you to sound like. Many of you are already doing so; keep it up. Your writing is so much nicer if it has a recognizable touch of your personality in it.

4. Take my e-mail address out of the "blog send" box in your settings. And if you have a PS from me, PLEASE turn off the word verification setting.

5. Act like you're enjoying it (even if you're not) and eventually you will.


The projects at the ends of chapters in Faire Englishche will be assigned individually in class. The reading assignment is only the content of that chapter.

Sorry for any confusion--The Management

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Updated schedule

I've made some changes to the assignment schedule. The new one gets us to the same place as the old one by Friday, September 10 (end of week 3 and my 60th birthday) but the order of the assignments is different. Between the JLP retreat and the 9th grade trip, there were too many conflicts to justify having a paper due Friday Sept 3. See the schedule of assignments for details.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Assignments--August 23 - October 7

English IV & AP—Major British Authors
Mr. Coon

Schedule of Assignments

August—October, 2010

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

Week 1: August 23—27

Day 1: First day—welcome, syllabus, blog intro, assignments

Day 2: Set up account with Google Reader (see “how to start a blog,” on mrcoonsenglish.blogspot.com); write blog assignment #1.

Day 3: Read chapter 1, Our Faire Englische Tung

Day 4: Quiz 1—Multiple choice (15 minutes); write blog assignment #2

Week 2: August 30—September 3

Day 1: Read chapter 2, Our Faire Englische Tung

Day 2: Anthology, pp. 1 - 7

Day 3: Anthology, pp. 26-35 (to l. 185)

Day 4: pp.35-41 (to l. 490); vocab quiz, lessons 1-2

Week 3: September 7—10 No classes Monday (Labor Day)

1: Anthology, pp. 41-48 (to l. 835)

2: Paper #1 due Wednesday, Sept 8 for all sections (including section 3 which does not meet)

3: Multiple choice quiz 2; read pp. 48-66 (l. 1650)

Week 4: September 13—17

1: blog #3 due; read pp. 66-83 (l. 2509)

2: pp. 83-97.

3: Vocab quiz 2 (lessons 3-4)

4: Test on Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon English

Week 5: September 20—24

1: blog #4 due; read pp. 723-732 (to l. 270)

2: read pp. 778-781 (to l. 171)

3. pp. 823-828 (ll. 567-833)

4: Multiple choice quiz 3; read pp. 829-834 (ll. 886-1098)

Week 6: September 27—October 1

1: blog #5 due; read chapter 3, Oure Faire Englische Tung

2: Read pp. 112-124

3. pp. 124-137

4: vocab quiz 3 (lessons 5-6). pp. 137-154

Week 7: October 4—7—No school Friday (Fall Break)

1: read pp. 154-165; no blog due

2. drafts due for paper #2; topics to be announced

3. Papers due; multiple choice quiz #4

Friday, August 20, 2010

Heading and format guidelines

Click here for a document detailing requirements for heading and format of your papers.

Paper #1 assignment

English IV & AP
Paper #1
Summer reading assignment
Due Friday, September 3, 2010

1. Papers must be submitted both as hard copy to me and digital file to turnitin (assignment title: Summer Reading Paper). If you will be absent Friday, your paper is due Thursday, September 2.
2. Follow guidelines on mrcoonsenglish.blogspot.com for proper paper heading and format. Be sure to include the necessary information.
3. Length is 800-1000 words (approximately 3 pp) for English IV students and 1300-1600 (approx. 5 pp) words for AP students.
4. Use NO secondary sources for this assignment. Refer only to your own thoughts and the text of your selected novels. No google searches, no sparknotes, no yahoo answers, no Jstor articles, or any outside sources of any sort. Am I making myself sufficiently clear about this?


1a. (for English IV) “One of the great powers of literature is its ability to teach us what it means to be a human being. Whether the story we read is set in the past, present, or future, writers show us what is important to people, what they value most, what their deepest hopes, fears, conflicts, or dilemmas may be. Through a privileged glimpse into an imagined life, set in the context of a specific place and time, we gain new knowledge not only into that other reality but also into our own humanity.”—Prof. T-Bone McGanahan

Apply this statement to the novel you selected for your summer reading assignment. Select one character from that novel and, in an essay, explain how the writer gives the character recognizable humanity despite any differences in setting and circumstances between that character’s life and our own. Refer to the novel for specific examples to support your ideas. Avoid plot summary.

1b. (for English IV) If you both read the book and watched the movie based on that novel, write a paper comparing the two. In particular, assess the significance of the decisions made by the screenwriter and director in adapting the novel to film. How faithful was the adaptation? How successfully was the spirit and emotion of the novel translated to the screen? Be certain to use specific references to both media in your discussion.

2. (for AP students) Often, the most significant events in a novel are mental or psychological. For example, the key to understanding the novel may lie in an awakening, a discovery, or a change in consciousness (adapted from the 1988 Advanced Placement examination in English Literature and Composition).

Apply this statement to both of the novels you selected from the reading list. For each, briefly show how the writer gives internal events the same excitement, suspense, and climax we often associate with external action. Identify the internal change and suggest its significance to the novel as a whole. Refer specifically to both novels in the course of your discussion. Avoid plot summary.

Blog assignment #1--Most memorable books

Think about the most memorable reading experiences you have ever had in your life. List 10 of them in a blog post, including a brief note about your reason for including each. How old were you? Why was that book so memorable? Here are my choices, not in any particular order; what are yours?

1. Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger. When I was 15 I thought it the truest book I'd ever read. I haven’t changed my mind all that much in the years since.
2. The stories of Edgar Allan Poe. I found these at my public library the summer I was 12 and couldn't stop reading. Nearly 50 years later, I can still picture the library book and its purple cover. The Pit and the Pendulum, The Gold Bug, Murders in the Rue Morgue—loved ‘em.
3. All the Kings Men, Robert Penn Warren. Read it the first time when I was 20. I’ve gone back to it several times since. The best account of hardball politics I know, but also a great story of personal redemption.
4. Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brian. I love the whole series, all 20 volumes. I’ve read each one at least twice. The British navy during the Napoleonic wars comes alive and the characters are utterly memorable and convincing. I toured Adm. Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, this summer.
5. Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin. A burglar, a consumptive heiress, a flying horse, and bridges from the future—what a combination.
6. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole. The most outrageously funny book I've ever read. I laughed out loud often.
7. Outlander, Diana Gabaldon--another series—I read volume 7 this summer. Time travel, romance, and history in one ever-expanding package.
8. Lonesome Dove--Larry McMurtry--my all-time favorite western, and I’ve always loved westerns. Part of a series of 4 novels, but this one stands out as the best of the bunch.
9. Gone to Soldiers--Marge Piercy--my favorite WWII novel, follows the experiences of 10 characters from the war’s beginning to its end. Some die, some go on to unexpected careers, all are profoundly affected by the war.
10. Anna Karenina--Tolstoy--read it one chapter a night before bedtime for three months—an amazing story. Lots of serious readers call this the best novel ever written.
11. Absalom Absalom AND The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner—I like them both so much I can’t choose between them. The closest thing to actually living in the Old South is immersing yourself in a Faulkner novel. Not easy, but they’re worth the effort
12. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen--my 2nd favorite 18th century novel. I've had a crush on Lizzy Bennett since I was 18, I think.
13. Tom Jones, Henry Fielding--my favorite 18th century novel. A 900-page novel I once read in 4 days.
14. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens--he may be a bit out of fashion now, but I love Dickens stories, the breadth of them, the marvelously eccentric characters, the twists and turns of plot.
15. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain--the book I've read the most times, so many I've lost count.

Finally, at the risk of disappointing some of you severely, I hereby confess that I’ve only read one Harry Potter book. I enjoyed it but don't feel any overwhelming need to continue the series. I enjoyed The Magicians by Lev Grossman more. It's funnier and written for a little older audience. Also haven't read Hunger Games or the Twilight series, although I do have a favorite vampire book, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which comes close to making my list.

Blog assignment #1

Go to www.blogger.com. You should be automatically directed to their start page. Follow the "three easy steps" :
--Create your account using your PCDS e-mail account and a password of your choice (suggestion: use the same account and password for your turnitin.com 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 text set against a black or dark blue background, 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. Copy the exact URL of your blog carefully and legibly onto a bookmark card and give it to me when you arrive in class.

Finally, one crucial setting. Open the "comments" tab, scroll down, and click the "NO" button next to a setting called "show word verification for comments." This one is important to save me a great deal of time and bother when I write comments back to you about your blog posts. Be sure to click "save settings" before you leave this section of your settings.

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

I recommend that you write, edit, spell-check, and word-count your letter as 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 (410).


English IV & AP
Major British Authors I
Mr. Coon; Fall 2010

I. Goals

This fall-semester course examines the origins of literature in English and traces the development of the English language from its Germanic roots to the eighteenth century. Readings include the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, excerpts from the narrative cycle The Canterbury Tales, the medieval romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, excerpts from the literary epic Paradise Lost, and lyric poetry of the 17th and 18th centuries. A supplemental text develops a historical understanding of the growth and development of the language itself.
Some students in the course have the AP designation attached to their enrollment. These students, chosen on the basis of their interest, prior achievements, and motivation level, supported by the department’s recommendation, are expected to meet slightly higher academic standards. AP students write one additional paper, write slightly longer papers, and take occasional quizzes based on practice materials drawn from previous AP English Literature examinations. Also, students enrolled with AP designation are required to take the second half of the Major British Authors sequence in the spring semester and sit for the AP exam in English Literature and Composition in May.

II. Textbook

The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors, Eighth edition, Volume A

III. Additional texts
1. Vocabulary for Achievement, 6th course
2. Oure Faire Englische Tung: A Brief History of the English Language
3. Selected novels for summer reading

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 and completeness of entries, quality of style, and originality of content. Instructions about creating and posting blog entries may be found on my blog at mrcoonsenglish.blogspot.com.
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 assigned novels, plays, poems, or stories.

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).

V. Turnitin.com
In addition to submitting hard copies of your papers this year, you are required to submit electronic copies of all papers to turnitin.com. These instructions will help you submit your papers. Use your PCDS e-mail address and the same password for turnitin.com that you use for your account at blogger.com.
• On your web browser, go to turnitin.com. Register as a new user or login to the personal home page you created last year. You must give your PCDS 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 “APeng”; for World Literature students (non-AP) the class ID is 1875359 and the password is “engIV”. 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 10% 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 will be reported to the Dean of Students. Detention begins on the third and subsequent lateness to each class.

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 1-15; for the second, lessons 16-30. 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 (20%), papers and tests (50%), vocabulary and quizzes (20%), participation (10%).
• 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. 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—Lance.Coon@pcds.org