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GC: Final Essays

Because I have already written exhaustively about the process and purpose of the last month of class, I will keep my feedback here brief.  You can find your scores on the research paper and persuasive essay through the Portal, and the original prompts and guidelines are here:

General commentary and adjustments follow.

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The basics of the Regents Exam: You will take a three-hour examination on June 17th, beginning promptly at 8:15 am in the high school gymnasium.  You must arrive by 8:00 am to find your seat and prepare to write.  You will need pens and pencils; everything else, including scrap paper, will be provided when you settle into your seats in the gym.

As you review for Friday’s exam, you might also benefit from using the following website, which provides Regents prep for free: Regents Review 2.0.

This post covers Part 3 and Part 4 of the exam; it also includes scores and feedback for the four-part reflective adversarial you completed while taking the practice exam between 5/31 and 6/9.

Part 3: Paragraphing Writing and Literary Analysis

Part 4: Essay Writing and Literary Analysis

Period 1 students will be able to see their Part 4 essay scores online Monday morning; all students will receive these essays back then for review and further discussion.

A quick note on this specific critical lens: In Animal Farm, the idea of suffering or overcoming suffering plays out over ten chapters, not one; if you wrote only about the animals rebellion in the beginning, you failed to demonstrate an understanding of the plot, its themes, and its conflicts.  Using only the first chapter or so suggests that you only read the first chapter or so.  If you had read further, you would most likely use the suffering of the animals under the pigs’ rule; you would discuss the ending of the novel, I hope, and probably use it to contradict the idea of overcoming suffering.

A few of you commented that you didn’t know how to write a critical lens essay.  Ignore what the essay is called; you know how to write, so it doesn’t matter if your prompt asks for a critical lens interpretation or an expository report.  You’ve done a lot of literary analysis.  And you know what to do if you feel confused: Read the requirements and directions, noting any specific necessities (e.g., you must use two works of literature on a critical lens essay); write a thesis statement that answers the prompt; outline your response; develop each paragraph’s main idea, connecting it back to the thesis; and then double-check your work for errors.

Good writing is about meaning and detail, not filling in the blanks of some ugly and robotic formula.  You should use models and examples, just like we have all year, but give yourself the freedom to approach English tests, even those designed by a cold and unfeeling Board of Education, as exercises in critical thinking and insightful writing.  You can do that.  You don’t need to be given or to regurgitate lockstep test-taking strategies.

Reflective adversarial scores and feedback: You can load your scores (organized by student number) below.  Through the Student Portal, you can see if you were one of the few students to lose points; if you were caught playing games repeatedly in the computer lab, or if you otherwise failed to follow instructions repeatedly, those notations will accompany your final grade for the assignment.  All of you should take the time to revisit each post and read your peers’ comments.  Consider especially the discussion of possible works of literature for Part 4 of the Regents Exam.

Static note on adversarial scores: You will be given points for each thoughtful, focused response to the questions below, with no limit to the number of points you can earn during any adversarial reflection period.  Each post will be closed after 48 or 72 hours, depending on the day the reflection is assigned.  You are encouraged to return often to each post to read your peers’ responses; if you offer thoughtful, focused feedback to a peer’s comment, it is worth twice as many points.  See the original post on adversarial augmentation for more information on adversarial work. 

Final Exam Reflection: Part 4

For this portion of the exam, you were given a critical lens statement to interpret.  Then you were asked to write a full-length essay that applied that interpretation to two works of literature.  You were required to use Animal Farm and one of the other texts you studied this year.  To reflect on your performance, answer any of the following questions in the comments:

  1. What was your interpretation of the critical lens, and what was your initial reaction to using it?
  2. Which other work of literature did you choose, and why?
  3. What literary elements and techniques did you identify in your two works of literature, and how did you analyze them in your writing?  (Refer to this document if necessary.)
  4. When you take the real Regents Exam on June 17, you will be able to use any works of literature that you like.  Which will you review as possible choices, and what makes them effective choices?
  5. What is your thesis statement?  How well did you defend it?
Remember to indicate which question you are answering by rephrasing the question as part of your response.  You will have 48 hours to complete your adversarial reflections for this section of the exam.  We will review your answers for #3 and #4 on Monday the 13th.

Static note on adversarial scores: You will be given points for each thoughtful, focused response to the questions below, with no limit to the number of points you can earn during any adversarial reflection period.  Each post will be closed after 48 or 72 hours, depending on the day the reflection is assigned.  You are encouraged to return often to each post to read your peers’ responses; if you offer thoughtful, focused feedback to a peer’s comment, it is worth twice as many points.  See the original post on adversarial augmentation for more information on adversarial work. 

Final Exam Reflection: Part 3

For this portion of the exam, you were given a poem and an excerpt from an essay to read and annotate.  You answered a short series of multiple-choice questions, and then you wrote two short responses, each about a paragraph in length.  To reflect on your performance, answer any of the following questions in the comments:

  1. What literary elements and techniques did you identify in each passage, and how did you use them in your writing?  (Refer to this document if necessary.)
  2. How did you structure your paragraphs, and to what extent can you identify the necessary elements of a paragraph (e.g., a topic sentence, development)?
  3. Which of the passages was easier to understand and annotate, and why?
  4. What were your initial reactions to the subject of each passage?
  5. Which multiple-choice questions were most difficult to answer, and how did you determine which choice was the best?
Remember to indicate which question you are answering by rephrasing the question as part of your response.  You will have 72 hours to complete your adversarial reflections for this section of the exam.

Static note on adversarial scores: You will be given points for each thoughtful, focused response to the questions below, with no limit to the number of points you can earn during any adversarial reflection period.  Each post will be closed after 48 or 72 hours, depending on the day the reflection is assigned.  You are encouraged to return often to each post to read your peers’ responses; if you offer thoughtful, focused feedback to a peer’s comment, it is worth twice as many points.  See the original post on adversarial augmentation for more information on adversarial work. 

Final Exam Reflection: Part 2

For this portion of the exam, you were given two passages to read and annotate.  Then you answered a short series of multiple-choice questions.  To reflect on your performance, answer any of the following questions in the comments:

  1. Which of the passages was easier to understand and annotate, and why?
  2. What were your initial reactions to the subject of each passage?
  3. How did you structure your annotations?  If you did not annotate the passages, how can you alter your approach for the exam on June 17?
  4. Which multiple-choice questions were most difficult to answer, and how did you determine which choice was the best?
Remember to indicate which question you are answering by rephrasing the question as part of your response.  You will have 48 hours to complete your adversarial reflections for this section of the exam.

Static note on adversarial scores: You will be given points for each thoughtful, focused response to the questions below, with no limit to the number of points you can earn during any adversarial reflection period.  Each post will be closed after 48 or 72 hours, depending on the day the reflection is assigned.  You are encouraged to return often to each post to read your peers’ responses; if you offer thoughtful, focused feedback to a peer’s comment, it is worth twice as many points.  See the original post on adversarial augmentation for more information on adversarial work.

Final Exam Reflection: Part 1

For this portion of the exam, you were read a short passage and asked to take notes on its main ideas.  Then you answered a short series of multiple-choice questions.  To reflect on your performance, answer any of the following questions in the comments:

  1. What was your general approach to the passage, i.e., how did you keep yourself engaged and attentive as you listened?
  2. How did you structure your notes?
  3. To what extent did you use the second reading of the passage to help you answer the multiple-choice questions?
  4. Which multiple-choice questions were most difficult to answer, and how did you determine which choice was the best?
Remember to indicate which question you are answering by rephrasing the question as part of your response.  You will have 48 hours to complete your adversarial reflections for this section of the exam.

The Final Exam

From 5/31 through 6/13, you will complete your final exam, which is a practice English Regents Exam.  You will take the real English Regents Exam on 6/17, during finals week, as part of your graduation requirements; that real Regents Exam will not count toward your course average or overall final GPA, however.  Your final exam will consist instead of

  1. your score on 25  multiple-choice questions;
  2. your score on two paragraphs of analysis;
  3. your score on an essay of literary analysis; and
  4. your cumulative score on a series of reflective, online adversarials, each one built around one of the four tasks of the English Regents Exam.

Use the final exam schedule given to you through our calendar and in the Q4 materials (archived under the appropriate heading on the right of the screen) as a starting point.  Then look over the following exam requirements.

General Requirements

You must complete each portion of the exam itself during the class period.  If you are late, you sacrifice that lost time; if you are entitled to extended time, you will receive it after school in one of the preset periods indicated in the final exam schedule (archived under the appropriate heading to the right of the screen).  For each reflective portion, you will be given a class period with computers; you will then have at least 48 hours to augment your adversarial reflection online.  All reflective work will be completed through this course blog.

Task 1: Listening (5/31)

You will hear a passage read aloud to you twice.  While you listen, you will take notes on main ideas and details.  Then you will answer eight multiple-choice questions.  The reflective work for Task 1 will be completed on 6/1.

Task 2: Reading Comprehension (6/2)

You will read two short passages, and then you will answer twelve multiple-choice questions that test your close reading skills.  The reflective work for Task 2 will be completed on 6/3.

Task 3: Comparative Analysis (6/6)

On 6/3, the day you complete the reflective work for Task 2, you will be given two passages, an essay excerpt and a poem, that deal with one topic.  After reading both over the weekend, you will arrive on 6/6 and complete Task 3.  First, you will answer five multiple-choice questions.  Then you will write two short responses, each one a paragraph responding to a specific prompt:

  1. The first will ask you to use ideas from both passages to establish a controlling idea about their shared topic.  You will be asked to develop your controlling idea using specific examples and details from each passage.
  2. The second will ask you to choose a specific literary element (e.g., theme, characterization, structure, point of view) or literary technique (e.g., symbolism, irony, figurative language) used by one of the authors.  Note that you will not be asked to discuss both authors, but only one.  Then you will be asked to use specific details from that one passage to analyze how the author uses that element or technique to develop the passage.  You may use this adapted document to review literary elements and techniques.  You should also and obviously use your notes from throughout the school year.

The reflective work for Task 3 will be completed on 6/7.

Task 4: Literary Analysis (6/8 and 6/9)

Finally, you will be asked to write a full essay over two days that discusses two works of literature you have read from the particular perspective of a critical lens, which is a quotation that offers some insight into the world around us.  You are required to use Animal Farm; your other work of literature may be chosen from any of the texts we have studied this year (e.g., The Invisible Man, Blake’s poetry, “A Modest Proposal,” Bradbury’s “The Earth Men,” “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”).  You will again be asked to make references to specific literary elements and techniques used by your authors.  Return to your notes and compendia, or use this adapted document to review.  The reflective work for Task 4 will be completed on 6/10.

Our final day of school on 6/13 will be spent preparing for the Regents Exam by reviewing your performance over the previous two weeks.