Senior English at Another Course to College

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Course Overview 2014-15 Book List Schedule of Papers Schedule of Tests

Senior English - World Literature with Mr. Robert Comeau

at Another Course to College, a Boston Public School

 

Course Overview

 

We can do it: In Senior English, together we’ll undertake reading, writing and discussions at a level that’s usually reserved for students in elite private high schools and affluent suburbs. It will be hard, and you can do hard work.

 

We will read Plato and Dante, Shakespeare and Cervantes, Equiano and Wollstonecraft, Woolf and Joyce, Dostoyevsky and Camus, Borges and Marquez, Nietzsche and Foucault, Conrad and Salih, Memmi and Fanon. We’ll read 3,300 pages, write 7 long papers, and discuss books every day at a college level. Students might need a bit of extra help at first, and that’s okay. I’m here to help during and after school. In my 15 years of teaching at ACC, I’ve seen students of all skill levels grow dramatically, and go on to succeed in college. Our graduates have succeeded in schools such as Harvard, Brown, BU, BC, Williams, Wesleyan, Tufts, Brandeis, Smith, Bryn Mawr, and Wellesley. Many more have started out at local community colleges, where I got my start as well. No matter where you started from, no matter where you heading next, together we will get ready for college by doing college level work. In Senior English, you’ll do it every night until your final exam. If you do the work, you’ll know you’re ready for higher education at the end of the year.

Course philosophy: This class is based on an educational philosophy known as constructivism, in which students actively construct their understanding of the subject at hand, rather than passively receiving knowledge imparted from the instructor. In a constructivist classroom, students play an active role as learners, which should prove both engaging and demanding. To make this strategy succeed, they must come to class prepared to actively engage in discussions. While class discussions are at the heart of the course, I will deliver a good deal of background and analysis on the texts we read, which I’ll mix into our conversations as “mini-lectures.” However, students must do original thinking in their comments and papers, rather than repeat what they’ve heard from me. All discussions will grow from your ideas on the readings we’ve done together, which I’ll work to deepen and expand. We will make our conversations more meaningful by going through our readings into new understandings of our lives and the broader world.

Skill Development: Abstract analysis is a hallmark of adult thinking, separating children from young men and women. This skill emerges in late adolescence, and the progress young people make is often fitful, with two steps forward and one step back. As students work to improve their analytical abilities, progress can be quick or slow, sometimes clear and sometimes confused. Though this progress can pose a challenge, that challenge is essential, and you will find yourself at graduation far ahead of where you began in September. Analytical thinking and writing are the most essential skills for college and professional success, and receive the primary focus in Senior English. Students will read expert literary analysis and write their own in papers that demand original thinking, careful argument, and thorough evidence. To get better at this difficult work, you’ll need to hang tough through the  learning process, heed coaching, and keep at it.

Of course, these sophisticated skills will amount to little if students don’t develop the self discipline to read every night, and write their papers on time. We’ll work on “accountable behavior” and “mental toughness” as skills, discussing together the positive and negative habits of mind that lead toward or away from reaching our academic goals. We’ll practice metacognition, to observe and control the thinking that leads to our behaviors around school work. One of the most basic goals for accountability will be the development of reading and writing stamina. We’ll do lots of work, because students who can keep up with the higher pace of reading and writing in college have a better chance of graduating from college. In our written work, we’ll practice the self discipline of careful proofing, and on an individual basis, students who need help will work to write in standard English.

Metacognition and Self-Directed Learning: An essential skill for college and life success is metacognition, the ability to think about your own thinking, to monitor your thoughts and feelings, and understand their connections to your behavior. Self-monitoring will help students become self-directed learners who can succeed in the independent work of college and career. While all students can grow in these areas, I will work more intensively with those who struggle to come prepared for class, to come on-time, and to pass for the year. The Know Thyself book will facilitate this work. In it, students will do self-reflecting writing, which I will read, and respond to in occasional conversations. You’ll learn more about yourself, and I’ll learn more about you. Your writing will help me gain cultural competence, which helps a teacher better know his students, and how to help them individually.

Critical Consciousness: As we develop our analytical skills, we’ll work to transfer them to our understanding of media, culture, power, justice, identity, and equality, in the concrete situations of our daily lives. Just as we can get better at reading the deep structures and meanings of books, we can get better at “reading” ourselves, our positions in the dynamics of knowledge and power, the historical forces that have brought us to this place together, and the culture’s narratives about who we are and where we belong. Together, we’ll discuss forces of oppression and of liberation within contemporary Boston and the wider world, by connecting what we’re reading in class to what we know about the story of our own lives, and of situations across the globe. We’ll dig deeper, and work at many angles to come to know ourselves and our communities in new ways, always struggling toward understandings that can help us improve our lives together.

Readings: In the 11th grade, students read important works by U.S. authors, when they take the American Literature pre-requisite to the World Literature course in 12th grade. In Senior English, students will build upon and expand beyond their knowledge of American literature, by reading a broad selection of international texts. Each night we’ll practice “active reading” by making notes on our ideas, in preparation for the next day’s discussion. We’ll learn to do “close readings” that look carefully at the small details of short passages, working to understand how a work’s local style, thematics and structure shape its broader meanings. We’ll move in chronological order, working to develop an understanding of the historical development of world literature. We’ll take an eclectic approach to our studies by reading a range of works, from sacred literature to epic and lyric poetry, drama, philosophy, fiction, and even a little economics and history. In line with the new Common Core state standards, we will read a lot of academic non-fiction. Often, we’ll look at theory to help gain analytical perspectives on the development of world literature – from the fields of psychology, comparative religion, sociology, art history, economics, literary and cultural studies, political philosophy, education, feminism, and Marxism, as well as postmodern and postcolonial theory. Through these diverse readings and analytical approaches, I hope the course will break down any narrow understanding students might have of “studying English,” and broaden the possibilities of cross-disciplinary scholarship in their futures. I will also work so that our reading about literature will not walk over the experience central to the course: each student’s personal encounter with the primary text.

Writing: Every student takes two hours of English each day, the first hour focused on literature, and the second on writing. In senior year, students will work to develop their analytical and creative writing, through prewriting exercises, group discussions, vocabulary enrichment, exemplar analysis, teacher coaching, and peer feedback. Students will receive instruction and feedback before and after their assignments. When writing essays or speaking in class, we’ll learn to structure our communication for clarity and effective organization. Students will revise their writing, working toward flawless standard English, a wide-ranging and expressive vocabulary, and a variety of sentence structures crafted to develop flow and rhythm in their prose. We’ll work on rhetorical skills, including tone and voice. Students will reflect on the intended audience of their writing, and fit their style to the purpose of each piece. As we analyze the connections between form and content in our nightly readings, students will work to incorporate these stylistic devices in their own writing, in creative and analytical work, to become self-conscious craftsmen of prose and poetics.

History: The course will move in chronological order, and we’ll constantly ask ourselves how literature and ideas connect, contrast and transform over time. Throughout the year, we’ll examine the “history of ideas,” to trace out how humans have thought about themselves and their world over time – and how historical, political, cultural and economic developments have given shape to the literature we read. For example, we’ll examine the development of the modern notion of self, where the idea of unique personality and  personal agency arises in contest with ancient fatalism and medieval anonymity – so that in the Renaissance we find complex notions of interiority and depth of character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. We’ll discover that many of our fundamental notions about life have historical roots beneath which lie very different constructions of the universe, and our place within it.

AP English: Any senior who wants an extra challenge is encouraged to take the AP Exam in English Literature and Composition. AP English students will meet with me for an extra two class periods each week, in order to prepare for the difficult exam in May. Taking AP English boosts your GPA, and will look good on your applications to competitive colleges. Test fee reductions will be offered to qualifying students, based on financial need.

To qualify for enrollment in AP English, each student must attend all classes regularly, and complete their assignments for both Senior English and the test preparation course. There will be very little extra homework for AP, just the occasional take-home practice test. However, some Senior English assessments will have different requirements for AP students, to help prepare them for their exam. This will mean challenging midyear and final exams, simulating the AP test. If a student fails to keep up with their English work and attend classes – including the mandatory after school sessions – they will be dropped from AP.

Honors Credit: Because of the rigorous nature of the couse, ACC gives Honors credit for the work, for those not choosing to do AP English. If a student truly struggles in the course, and is in danger of failing for the year, he or she might lose Honors status in return for accommodations in the curriculum.

A fresh start: No matter how well or poorly students have done in school before, I hope they’ll look at their senior year as a chance to begin anew, to reinvent themselves as students, to discover passions in their learning that they might pursue through college and career. Learning in Senior English is about learning to see differently, to see with fresh eyes our selves and our work together.

Scaffolding: By the year’s end, students will read 30 pages each night, write a 2,000 word paper integrating analysis of literature with outside research, deliver well organized and deep contributions during class discussion, and range a penetrating vision through literature, culture, history, philosophy, identity, race, gender, class, and the webs of power/knowledge that structures our daily discourse, in the very ways we know ourselves and others.

To get there, I’ll increase the demands of the course over time. It is therefore essential for students to maintain solid effort and attendance each term. Students who miss too much class, or disengage for too long, will find their work even more difficult when they return. Scaffolding the work load, so students can gradually build the skills they’ll need for college, will benefit those who maintain consistent attendance and effort.

 

 

 

Reading

Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Term 4

Average pages / night

14

25

20

28

Historical Periods

Ancient

Medieval-Early Mod.

19th-20th centuries

20th century

Class discussion

Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Term 4

Facilitation

Much guidance and coaching

Guidance and coaching.

Some group work.

Less guidance and coaching.

More group work.

Little guidance and coaching.

Much group work.

Papers

Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Term 4

Length

1250 words

1500 words

1750 words

2000 words

Analysis

Content, some form

Content, more form

Form and content

Form, content, research

Topical focus

Ancient myth

 

 

Ancient philosophy

Medieval/Modern ethics and values

 

Modern identity

Enlightenment rationalism

 

Modernity and its discontents

 Postmodern theory

 

Postcolonial literature, theory, and race

 

Multiple Intelligences, Multimedia, Multisensory

 

 

Though we focus in class on oral and written analysis, I work to incorporate other sensory modes to help all learners access the curriculum. During the first term, I type comments on a computer projector so we can slow down the conversation, and structure analysis visually, to model feedback and coaching in a way that’s accessible for students who learn more visually. When possible, I perform physical analogies for abstract concepts, and try to get students in on the movement, too. For example, when teaching the concept of a close reading, we go into the hallway, using it as a metaphor for a text, and “read” the small details of its style, structure, and meaning. Kinesthetic modeling helps some learners grasp a concept that’s otherwise elusive. To learn the skill of formal analysis, we’ll look at art history slideshows, and do close readings of film. I’ll work to engage learners on many levels, to bring ideas to fuller life.

 

Differentiated Instruction

 

While my plan for the year is sketched out in this book, I will change course now and again to respond to student needs. If you’re having trouble with the work, please see me, and I’ll do my best to help you access the content and succeed in the course. It’s my job to help all students learn, and I want to do it better. I am learning to design instruction that better reaches all learners. Please help me do that.

All students will do challenging work this year. Some students require modified assignments and assessments to succeed. Special Education and English Language Learners will meet with me privately to discuss accommodations and individual goals for the year.

 

Vocabulary development for the analysis of form

To help prepare you for the analysis of form in class discussions, papers, exams, and eventually college, you’ll need to learn the specialized vocabulary of that discipline. During each unit, I’ll introduce key terms to help build your understanding of formal analysis. By midyear, you’ll be incorporating at least 5 of these terms into your analytical papers. See the vocabulary terms after each unit below.

 

2014-15 Book List

Unit

Culture

Date

Books                                

Reading Challenge

Pgs

Creation Stories

and

Modern Theory

Mesopotamian

Greek

Judeo-Christian

Japanese

Yoruba/Cuban

Euro / American

1900-1000 BCE

725 BCE

950-450 BCE

720 CE

Unknown-1989

1890-1982

Enuma Elish

Theogony

The Book of Genesis, sel.

Nihongi

Creation Stories of Yoruba

Sel. Frazer, Freud, Durkheim…

 

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Difficult

16

22

14

16

22

52

Ancient Greece

Hellenic

550 BCE

520-420 BCE

390 BCE

Sappho, selected poems

Pre-Socratic philosophers, selections

Trial and Death of Socrates, etc., Plato

 

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Very Difficult

8

22

277

Ancient

China

 

Chinese

600 BCE

730 CE

500 BCE

740 CE

Philosophy - Tao Te Ching, , sel.

Poetry - Li Po, selected poems

Philosophy - Analects of Confucius, sel.

Poetry - Tu Fu, selected poems

 

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

12

12

8

12

Ancient Rome

Roman

19 BCE

The Aeneid, Virgil, Books I-VI

 

Somewhat Difficult

188

Medieval Arabia

Muslim

610 CE

1300 CE

Approaching the Qur’an, Sells, selection

The Arabian Nights, folk, selection

Somewhat Difficult

Accessible

140

84

Medieval Europe

Italian

1310

Inferno, Dante

 

Somewhat Difficult

260

Early Modernity:

  the Renaissance

Spanish

English

1605

1602

Don Quixote, Cervantes, selection

Hamlet, Shakespeare

Accessible

Difficult

169

140

Early Modernity:

  the Enlightenment

French

French

English

Afro-Anglo

English       

English

1759

1762

1780 / 1787

1789

1792

1729

Candide, Voltaire

Emile, or Education, , sel., Rousseau

Morals / Panopticon, sel., Bentham

Narrative of the Life of… , sel., Equiano

… the Rights of Women, sel., Wolstonecraft

Modest Proposal,” Swift

Accessible

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

103

16

25

28

22

10

Modern Economics

Scottish

Mexican

Germ./English

1776

1975

1888

The Wealth of Nations, Smith, selection

Marx for Beginners, Rius

The Communist Manifesto, Marx/Engels

Difficult

Fairly Accessible
Somewhat Difficult
40
105

24

Modernity and its Discontents:

  Romanticism

English

English

English

1789 / 1794

1800s

1800s

Songs of Innocence / Experience

Favorite Poems, selection,

Selected poems

Deceptively Simple

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

45

20

20

Modernity and its Discontents:

  Modernism

Irish

English

1914

1929

The Dubliners, Joyce, selection

A Room of One’s Own, Woolf

 

Somewhat Difficult

Difficult

25

110

Modernity and its Discontents:

  Existentialism

Russian

French

1864

1942

Notes from the Underground, Doestoyevsky

The Stranger, Camus

 

Somewhat Difficult

Accessible

91

120

Modernity and its Discontents:

Magical Realism,

and McOndo

Argentina

Colombian

Chile

1935-1967

1967

1997-2005

 

Selected short stories, Borges

100 Years of Solitude, Marquez

Short Stories from Alberto Fuguet

 

Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Accessible

 

73

78

25

Postmodern

German

French

French

Palestin.-Amer.

French

French

1873

1968

1975

1978

1980

1981

“On Truth and Lying…,” Nietzsche

“The Death of the Author,” Barthes

Discipline & Punish, sel., Foucault

Orientalism, sel., Said

A Thousand Plateaus, selection, Deleuze/Guattari

Simulacra and Simulation, sel., Baudrillard

Very Difficult

Very Difficult

Very Difficult

Very Difficult

Promiscuous of Category

Very Difficult

16

6

40

10

10

10

Postcolonial

Eng. / Nigerian

 

Sudan

Tunisian

Algerian

English
Brazilian

Zimbabwean

N.Y./Antig.

American

1910/ 1902/

 

1977

1966

1957

1963

1833 / 1835
1968

1985

1990

2010

"Secret Sharer," Heart of Darkness, Conrad / Racism in …, Achebe

Season of Migration to the North, Salih

The Colonizer and the Colonized, Memmi

Wretched of the Earth, selection, Fanon

“Minutes on Indian Education,Macauley

Pedagogy of Oppressed, sel., Freire

Nervous Conditions, Dangarembga

Lucy, Kincaid

"Code Switch," Sturdivant

 

Somewhat Difficult

 

Somewhat Difficult

Difficult

Difficult

Accessible
Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Somewhat Difficult

Accessible

90

 

169

129

23

4

16

250

170
2

 

Approximate Total Pages: 3,300 (about 21 pages per day, for 160 days)

 

 

Tentative Schedule - Papers

(must meet minimum word count, worth 25% of each term,

except for the final paper, 2,000 words or more, worth 50% of term 4.)

 

Topic

Due Date

Min. Length

1 - Myth/Modern

Sept. 22

1,250 words

2 - Republic

Oct. 14

1,250 words

3 - Inferno

Dec. 1

1,500 words

4 - Hamlet

Dec. 22

1,500 words

5 - Enlightenment

Jan. 26

1,750 words

6 - Modernity

March 16

1,750 words

7 - Postcolonial

May 18

2,000 words

 

 

Tentative Schedule - Tests

 

Fallacies Exam

October 6

50 min. test

Poetic Aphorisms

October 20

6 brief theses, creative and compelling

College Essay Draft

November 10

About 500 words

Don Quixote Exam

December 10

50 min. timed essay

Midyear Exam

Week of Feb. 9

2 hour timed essay worth 10% of the year’s grade

Creative Response

March 2

Two page response to form and content of selected work

Final Exam, AP

April 15

Full 3 hour AP practice test

Reading the World

Last week of class

Break down an image/object you select from culture

Final Exam, Honors

Week of May 26th

2 hour timed exam worth 10% of the year’s grade

 

Course Overview 2014-15 Book List Schedule of Papers Schedule of Tests

 

 

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