Reminder: Final Exam

This is a reminder that will also be shared with you over email and through Infinite Campus: Your final exam begins on Monday, June 3, and runs through Thursday, June 6. You have been given the structure and focus of this exam a few times, most notably with the end-of-year calendar attached to your end-of-year contracts, so this will only briefly review what to expect:

  1. Each day, you will be given  set of passages to read. These texts may be prose or poetry.
  2. After you’ve read the passages, you will answer a series of multiple-choice questions on the passages. These questions will cover main ideas, literary elements and techniques, and inference.

Remember that you’ve been practicing indirectly for this exam since September; all of the close reading and critical thinking we’ve done has inculcated the skills you’ll need. In addition, you should have been practicing more directly for the last month, because the Castle Learning exercises assigned to you function as both Regents Exam prep and prep for our final exam.

That’s not enough, however. You were given at the beginning of this week a last assignment to help you practice and prepare for Monday: another set of Castle Learning exercises on critical reading. Complete this last set of eight exercises before Monday’s exam, and you should be more than prepared for the week. This is also an assignment for Q4, so you’ll be rewarded twice for your hard work.

Note that if you are prepared, you will probably also have time from Monday through Thursday to work on your other end-of-year assignments in class, including an optional critical lens revision, the optional research-driven revision, the online adversarial, and a practice Regents Exam (which will be assigned next week). Otherwise, you’ll be finishing your final exam in class and completing these other assignments as homework.

Send me an email with any questions or concerns, and good luck.


Research-Driven Writing Response

Below is a link to the prompt and outline distributed in class on Tuesday, May 7. It details what is due by May 20, when you will begin submitting these essays. A copy has been emailed to you and shared on Google Drive, as well.

We will look at these instructions together, but the onus for the actual response is on you. You must create a plan and execute it. You may work together, and you should work with me when necessary; conferences, including email, are essential to this sort of inquiry-based learning.

Books, Choice, and Self-Efficacy: Q4

Due date: Finish your book by Thursday, May 23. We will begin to work with them on that day.

By now, you’ve had a pair of lessons devoted to discussing and choosing a book to read during the fourth quarter. You’ve heard from your peers, gotten feedback from me, and begun the proposal process. This post is a chance to earn more points toward our current adversarial by posting your proposals and responding to your classmates.

First, a quick rundown:

  • You will commit to reading a book of your choice this quarter.
  • Your choice must be approved by me.
  • You’ll submit a proposal by 4/24.
  • The due date will be set once all proposals are approved.
  • You will write a reader-response essay after finishing your book.

Second, a few lengthier guidelines:

Continue reading

Castle Learning

Toward the end of the year, in mid-June, you will take the New York State Comprehensive English Regents Examination. You must pass this test to graduate. If you would like to see what the test might look like, check here. If you would like to know what I think of the test, check here. This post assumes that your real interest is in passing.

You’ll prepare for this exam while practicing the sort of independent and student-driven learning we actually believe in. To do this, we need Castle Learning. The assignment parameters and schedule are below; check them over, speak to me, and begin.

Note: The Regents Exam itself does not affect your GPA, nor is it part of this year’s English average. You will, however, be scored on the Castle Learning assignments you are given.


These links walk you through the site itself, if you haven’t already used it in another class. I will also help you to get started. If you have never used the site, here are your directions:

  1. Go to Castle Learning.
  2. Type in your ID  in the appropriate box under “Sign into Castle Learning Online.” Your ID:  brew.studentidentificationnumber (padded on the left with 0’s so that your ID is 9 digits. (ex:  brew.009123456)
  3. Skip the password field.
  4. Click the sign-in button.
  5. Follow the steps to choose a password & click “Submit.” All users should sign in and set a password as soon as possible in order to protect their accounts.
  6. Under “Your Classes,” click on the link for our class.


On April 5, you will be assigned one set of ten questions to answer as an introduction to Castle Learning (whether or not you’ve used it before). After that, you will be given all of the Castle Learning assignments for Q4 at once. Your job is to complete the work when you can, taking your time and addressing each task to the best of your ability. Castle Learning keeps track of how long you spend on each assignment, how many answers you get correct, and more; do this seriously, and you will not run into any trouble.


You will receive the average of all of these Castle Learning assignments as part of Q4. More information will be given in class about budgeting your time and avoiding a rush at the end of the year.

Q3 Portfolios: Group Work and Google Drive

As you begin the revision process this week for your portfolios, you have one final decision to make: If you wish, you may work in groups to create a single portfolio or assignment. To do this, you must:

  1. Work equally on each essay response and formative writing assignment you revise.
  2. Prove that you have worked equally on each essay response and formative writing assignment you revise.

To prove that you have worked equally, you must use Google Drive. Complete all revision work in Drive; you must be able to pull up a revision history for the document that showcases each group member working equally to revise according to the feedback given to that particular response.

Here is how you access the revision history of a Google Drive document. You will also be required to submit a brief reflection that details exactly how the revision process was completed for this collaborative portfolio or assignment. Keep in mind what that “or” means: You can work together on all of the elements of the portfolio, one element, or a mixture; all you must do is track exactly what each member contributes.

What this requires of your group is a true collaboration. One student cannot do the revisions alone; if that happens, or if you are unable to pull up a revision history to prove that you have worked equally, then your portfolio or assignment will not be accepted. You will have to produce individual revisions of your individual originals, and you will suffer all late penalties that apply while you start over.

In other words, choose to work in a group very, very carefully. You will learn more from the experience, but it will take you a bit longer to prove the contributions of each member.

Individual students, by the way, will still need to complete a thorough reflection and metacognitive analysis of this portfolio; all an individual student avoids is the required proof through Google Drive that revision work was shared equally among all students.

Q3 Portfolios: Overview

Due Date: Any day between 3/18 and 3/22. All work is due in full before the end of the day on 3/22; no late work will be accepted after that point.

Requirements: Revised responses of the following work, submitted in the provided two-pocket folder. Each response must be typed, submitted in class and online, and, except for the narrative essay, absolutely no more than 500 words in length.

  1. “Santa Claus” essay (already revised)
  2. Expository essay
  3. Argument essay
  4. Literary analysis essay
  5. Narrative essay
  6. Formative work: The Invisible Man Ch. 4
  7. Formative work: The Invisible Man Ch. 9-11
  8. Formative work: The Invisible Man Ch. 25
  9. Formative work: The Invisible Man Ch. 26
  10. Formative work: The Invisible Man Ch. 27

Note: The formative work on The Invisible Man has been pushed off until the week of 3/18. Focus on revising the rest of the list above; you will not have to submit the work we do on Ch. 25-27 with your portfolios.

Process: You will have in-class lessons and online notes throughout this week (3/4—3/8). It is your responsibility to take these notes and use them to revise; when you are confused or require more help, it is your responsibility to conference with me in school or over email about your writing.

Starting Tuesday, March 5, you will need to read this website each day and take notes during each class in order to stay up-to-date. If you are absent, see me or a peer immediately. You cannot afford to fall behind in this process.

To aid you in this, you are being given the end-of-year rubric and guide:

Begin reading this now. Skim it first; then return to it as we study each of the revisions you must write over the next few weeks.

Scoring of drafts: Your first drafts will be returned to you with either a score out of 100 points (indicating effectiveness) or a score of +x/0, which will be added as a formative bonus to your overall point total this quarter. Read all feedback and descriptions carefully to understand which point system is being used.

The Invisible Man

If you’re reading this in class, you should have a copy of our first full-length work of narrative fiction: The Invisible Man, by H.G. Wells. Make sure you’ve taken one. You’ll also need your compendium.

First, note where this novel puts us in terms of our entire year: We’ve read short stories, longer stories, and poetry, and you’ve studied analysis and argument; as we increase the length of your reading and writing, this is the first longer work. After this, we’ll be reading plays and novels of increasing length. It’s not an impossible jump, but it will require some work on your end.

Today, you need to complete the following:

  1. Put your name in the book. This is your copy; you will be writing in it, and it’s yours to keep until the end of the year.
  2. In your compendium, write a paragraph or two about your reaction to getting a novel. Remember that this is your compendium; I will only need to see that you wrote something, not necessarily what that is. Be honest about whether you are upset, excited, confused, distracted, and so on. Just be specific, so we can talk as a class tomorrow.
  3. Continue writing in your compendium: What do you expect to learn by reading a book like this? Why?
  4. Keep writing in that compendium: Where would you go to find out about a book like this before reading it? Which websites would you visit to give you background, context, reviews, and so on? What would you be looking for?

After you’ve written a good amount for each of those, start looking online for information about this book. Write down anything interesting you find, but focus on the search—on which sites you visit, from Google to Good Reads, and what information you’re looking for. Stay focused on The Invisible Man, but recognize that you can look into movie versions, the history of the author, other books he wrote (including the one that caused a minor riot), influence throughout history, the time period—anything, really, so long as its informative. In fact, you might start with Amazon and some of the reviews of the novel.

Tomorrow, you need to be ready to talk about your answers to those questions and some of the information you’ve found out by poking around online.