Friday, February 11, 2011

Spring Semester : A Letter to My Class

Welcome back from your senior trip. I hope you had a good time.
Now it's time to get back to work.
 Mr. Balgley                   
A.P. English Literature & Composition Spring Semester Grading Policy:               

        15% Blogging Comments        
        10% A.P. Test Preparation Work
        25% Involvement in Class Discussion and Activities
        25% Written Assignments Including Class Note Taking
        25% Essay and Short Answer Tests and Quizzes 
I encourage you to delve deeply into what you are learning this semester; however, I will not be giving out any more extra credit assignments.  This semester a portion of your class work and your homework will be devoted to test preparation, so you will have more than enough to do.  (If you wish to enrich your understanding, by doing supplementary work, such as reading or research, please do so. When pertinent, please feel free to share what you have learned on your own with your classmates.)

There is a white elephant in our classroom. (This isn’t a reference to the George Orwell essay we read in October.) Our class is bifurcated. Some of you do not intend to take the May 11, 2011 A.P. English Literature and Composition Examination, while others of you are serious in your intent to prepare for, to take, and to do well on this exam. I want you to know that all students, regardless of their intentions, are required to work dutifully on all A.P. Test assignments, and to respect their classmates' desire to prepare for this test. It is part of our coursework.

These are my expectations of you this semester:
1. I expect you to attend class on time every day and to be seated at your desk and attentive at the outset of the third period.
2. I expect you to be prepared for class, having done whatever work was required the previous night.
3. I expect you to read carefully and to think critically about what you have read.
4. I expect you to come to class ready to participate in discussion.
5. I expect you to take chances and not to be afraid of making mistakes or of misunderstanding something.
6. I expect you to be open minded.
7. I expect you to remember what you were taught and what you have learned.
8. I expect you to develop into a self-motivated learner.
9. I expect you to listen carefully to your classmates and to learn from them.
10. I expect you to open your notebook and textbook without being prompted to do so.
11. I expect you to complete your writing assignments thoughtfully and to submit them on time.
12. I expect you both to read and to place comments in the class blog on a timely basis each night, and to check and recheck comments on postings to see if others have asked you questions, corrected you, disagreed with you, expressed different interpretations, asked interesting questions, or requested help.
13. I expect you to be courteous and respectful. Those who talk to others about matters unrelated to class work, or who show other forms of inattentiveness or disrespect, that divert classmates from learning, are being rude. Rudeness is a disorder that lowers academic standards. It is not permissible in our class.
14. I expect you to understand clearly the benefits derived from what is being taught in class.
15. I expect you to study and to be prepared to take tests.
16. I expect you to use your corrected tests as learning instruments.
17. I expect you to complete your class work in class.
18. I expect you to pay careful attention to how you structure and write your essays.
19. I expect you to use citations from texts to support your thoughts.
20. I expect you be aware of and comment on the literary devices a writer uses.
21. I expect you to revise your essays.
22. I expect you to take daily class notes from student discourse, from what is said by me, and from what is written on the board. The salient points of class discussion, whether made by me or by classmates, are to appear in your class notes. Your notes, derived from class discussion, are to reflect what you learned and what was taught to you in class. 
23. I expect you to know where we, as a class, are in the text we are discussing or reading at any given moment.
24. I expect you to annotate texts we read, just as you did with Antigone.
25. I expect you bring your textbook to class every day.
26. I expect you to do all A.P. Exam preparation assignments given to you.
27. I expect you to be aware of the dangers of senioritus, to know if you are suffering from it, and if so, to get a rapid cure.
28. I expect you to complete all assigned work when it is due, well before the end of each marking period. (I will not make grade changes this semester for late work.)
29. I expect you to remain committed to excellence, after the A.P. Exam is given.
30. I expect the best from you, and I to see you at June graduation, confident and well prepared for college.  

We have much to do in a very shot time before the end of this semester:

I.          Once we finish King Lear, we will start our war unit by reading a diverse selection of war poetry,  followed by a three short stories, and two war novels,  A Farewell to Arms by Ernst Hemingway and The Things they Carried by Tim O’Brien.
II.        We enter our epic unit with a selection from The Iliad and we then read The Odyssey by Homer.

III.       Our next unit is the short story.  We will read The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, The Rocking Horse Winner by D.H. Lawrence, Paul’s Case by Willa Cather, and other stories as time allows.

IV.       In our final unit we will selectively review what we read earlier in the year. This is intended to assist both those who will be taking the A.P. Exam and those who will be taking college freshman English in September.


  1. I can't to do The Odyssey! Ancient Greek Epics are my favorite part of English Literature!! :D

  2. No more Shakespeare, Please.! =)

  3. I would love to read The Odyssey. I need to have a good translation to understand the book better. Mr. Balgley, in your opinion what is the best translation of The Odyessey?