Monday, 12/15

We spent this last day before the final reviewing Rhetorical Analysis using the Michael Pollan essay from last week one last time as well as Atticus Finch’s closing statement during the trial scene in the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Homework: please review for the final by reviewing handouts and slides throughout this site; also, don’t forget that you must write the final using a blue or blank pen.

Thursday, 12/11

Students received about 10 minutes at the start of class to finish reading “What’s Eating America” by Michael Pollan in 50 Essays and to complete the handout they began last class. Next, we briefly set aside Pollan to review the 2014–15 AP Student Bulletin. I highlighted some of the most important information, and students checked out the AP Credit Policy Search page on the College Board’s website for AP students. Students also registered with the College Board (or checked their existing registration) so they will be able to receive their AP scores next summer. Next, I talked some more about next week’s final and how to prepare for it (including how to use this website to do so!). Finally, we returned to Pollan and discussed his argument using the handout.

Tuesday, 12/9

At the start of class, I reminded students one more time that revised and late TIB and Independent Novel Essays must be turned in by 2:30 p.m. on Friday, 12/12. Students then wrote a quick paragraph detailing the changes they made in their second draft of the de Botton essays from Friday, and then they turned in this paragraph along with both drafts of the essay. Next, we returned to discussing current events and the importance of staying up on the news. I gave students a small list of news sources that I typically go to when I want to learn more about an event:

We briefly discussed each of these sources, and then students picked a few (or their own source), browsed the front pages, and found an article about a current event they know little to nothing about. After reading the article, students completed and gave one-slide presentations (details on Google Classroom). After these presentations, we turned to our last argument text before the final — Michael Pollan’s 2006 essay “What’s Eating America.” Students read this and completed a notes handout until the end of class. We will pick up here on Thursday.

Friday, 12/5

I collected seminar reflections at the start of class and told students we were finished with Ehrenreich for now, but some may want to use the text as part of their research project next semester. Then we reviewed my suggested organization for Argumentative essays before students wrote a timed essay, the de Botton prompt. After writing, we reviewed the published Q&A about this prompt from the College Board, we watched some examples of humorists at work discussing various current events, and students started planning revisions to these essays. Homework: revise your de Botton essay using the Q&A slides, additional/better evidence (including things we watched today and other new examples you come across this weekend); turn in both drafts on Tuesday.

Monday, 12/1

I checked the final Ehrenreich annotations as well as the Paine take-home essays at the start of class. After briefly discussing the end of the semester and updates to some of our current events topics from earlier in the semester, I introduced the Argument scoring guidelines and students peer-edited each others’ Paine essays. Students turned in their essays and ran through the simulation website Spent. We wrapped up class discussing Spent and the Nickel and Dimed Socratic seminar we will have on Wednesday. Homework: research and bring hard copies of two annotated articles about minimum wage or related issues along with 7–10 questions for seminar.

Thursday, 11/20

After collecting Nickel and Dimed to check the Minnesota annotations, I had students make a number of lists (novels, historical events, current events, etc.) that they each knew a lot about so they would know from where to get the data for an Argumentative essay. Then we returned to the Cohen prompt and students chose sources from their lists they could use as data to answer this prompt. Students constructed T-charts and practiced “Yes, but...” statements with these sources. After this, I reviewed my recommended organization of a four-paragraph Argumentative essay. Switching gears, we discussed Ehrenreich’s Minnesota chapter for a bit, and then I introduced the Paine prompt, which we read and annotated together. Homework: spend 40 minutes writing the Paine essay; also, annotate “Evaluation” and simply read “Afterward” in Nickel and Dimed; also, work on late/revised TIB and novel essays!

Tuesday, 11/18

We debriefed from our first Legacy Grant Saturday Study Session at the start of class. Students shared what they learned and how they thought it would help them on the AP Exam (and more immediately, the final which is only a month away!). Then we finally got to spend some time discussing the Ehrenreich text, particularly what her central argument is and how well she has supported it so far. After a good discussion in each class, we shifted to our first argument prompt. Students did not write an essay for this prompt, but we used it to discuss where your evidence on this essay comes from as well as how important it is to evaluate multiple sides of the issue. We will continue working with the prompt on Thursday. Homework: the “Minnesota” chapter in Nickel and Dimed needs to be fully annotated by Thursday.

Friday, 11/14

I collected Ehrenreich annotations at the start of class, and then we discussed the group of Fairview students protesting the new CMAS state test. Then we worked on multiple choice practice where students answered short-answer versions of the MC questions before seeing the choices and picking the best one as a group. Homework: read and annotate the Minnesota chapter for Thursday.

Wednesday, 11/12

We worked on another “Yes, but...” activity today, this time with an article from FiveThirtyEight. Then we took this a step further and discussed sentence frames useful in concession and rebuttal. We also answered small/medium questions students had about Ehrenreich’s Florida chapter, and then connected the concession/rebuttal sentence frames to Nickel and Dimed. Homework: read and annotate the Maine chapter.

Monday, 11/12

After collecting copies of Nickel and Dimed to check students’ annotations, we started talking about argument and the AP Lang open question. We used a story in the Times-Call to discuss counterarguments. Students completed a handout on the “Yes, but...” pattern to begin thinking about counterarguments and rebuttal. We discussed students’ answers, and then talked for a few minutes about Ehrenreich’s Florida chapter. Homework: read and annotate the Maine chapter by Friday.

Thursday, 11/6

All TIB and Independent Novel Essays should have already been turned in. As a reminder, all that were turned in on time are eligible for revision after I grade and return them. Any that are not turned in right now are zeros; once they are turned in, they will receive full credit upon being graded, but the option to revise unexcused late essays will be revoked.

Today we spent the first part of class finishing up reading “The Allegory of the Cave.” Then we discussed this challenging text and the argument that Plato (via Socrates) is making. (We also watched a short video interpretation of the allegory.) After this, we read an interesting online essay — “Physical Salary” — that relates to the Ehrenreich text and how much people are paid. We discussed the introduction to that book and students’ small and medium questions to wrap up class. Homework: make sure you’ve read/annotated the Intro and the Florida chapter in Nickel & Dimed for Monday.

Tuesday, 11/4

Today was our recording day for TIB. Students used the GarageBand recording tutorial to first complete a practice recording and then record and submit their final draft TIB essay through Google Classroom. After finishing this, students began reading Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” which we will discuss next class. Homework: The Florida chapter in Ehrenreich must be read/annotated by next Monday.

Friday, 10/31

I was out today, so Ms. Dailey helped students to polish their This I Believe essays and make some good progress on the Independent Novel Essays. She also signed out copies of Nickel and Dimed, our next text. Everyone read the introduction and annotated it with sticky notes. Homework: Novel essays are due at 9:00 p.m. on Sunday; TIB essays need to be ready to record next class.

Wednesday, 10/29

At the start of class, I reviewed the GarageBand recording tutorial that we will use next week to record the completed This I Believe essays. Students then completed two rounds of peer editing and moved their TIB drafts into the final draft document published on Google classroom. Students also worked on making sure their essays fit the 300–500 word limit. Homework: nothing due Friday, but your TIB essay should be shaping up; don’t forget about those Independent Novel Essays due at 9:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Monday, 10/27

More work on This I Believe today — students began, and in some cases completed, rough drafts of their essays. I walked students through several steps to help them make progress on these drafts. We will continue this process Wednesday with some focused peer editing. Homework: nothing due Wednesday, but you need to have a relatively complete (+80%?) TIB draft for peer review; also, you need to begin working on your Independent Novel Essay; both assignments are available on Google Classroom.

Thursday, 10/23

I collected independent novels to check the last fourth at the start of class. Many students did not have it finished; they should consider turning it in Friday or early next week for partial credit. Next, we discussed as a class some of the rhetorical elements — purpose, appeals, tone, style — that This I Believe essays have in common. After this, we returned to Google Classroom to begin work on the This I Believe brainstorming activity. Students completed agree/disagree statements, five writing prompts, and some pre-writing questions, all designed to help them come up with a single belief that could be illustrated in a series of personal anecdotes. This activity took most of the rest of class, though several students had time to return to the Independent Novel essay prep digital handout from last class. At the very end of the block, we went over the assignment details and rubric for both the This I Believe essay and the Independent Novel essay.


  1. Finish annotating your independent novel if it was not done on time today
  2. Complete the novel essay prep handout by 3:00 on Friday afternoon
  3. Start working on your Independent Novel essay.

Tuesday, 10/21

We started class with 15 minutes of reading time, and then students returned to Google Classroom for more work on This I Believe and Independent Novel essay prep. For the first activity, students had to comment on others’ TIB listening documents from last class (some essays they had previously heard, some that were new to them), and this was mostly completed in class. For the second activity, students started working on preparing for the Independent Novel Essay by answering a series of questions to lead them to theme and organization around this theme. Homework: finish your independent novel by the start of class on Thursday; the Independent Novel Essay Prep assignment is due through Google Classroom by 9:00 p.m. Friday night.

Thursday, 10/16

After students turned in their independent novels for me to check the third-fourth annotations, we got out Chromebooks and began with a journal prompt pertaining to the independent novel reading and preparing for the essay about same. We then moved over to Google Classroom, where I have posted two assignments — a simple research activity around the historical context of the independent novel and a second, individual, This I Believe listening activity. Students worked on one of these two activities (largely, the TIB one) for the rest of class, and many completed it. Homework: complete both Google Classroom assignments by the start of class on Tuesday; also, continue reading as your completely annotated independent novel is due on Thursday.

Tuesday, 10/14

After some reading time to work on the third fourth of students’ independent novels, we began our personal essay assignment by listening to and analyzing a couple of This I Believe essays. Students also practiced with Google Classroom, which they will use to submit the final personal essay in a couple of weeks. Homework: I will check the annotations of the third fourth of your independent novel on Thursday.