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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.

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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.

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DUE DATE: 6/6/11, online (Turnitin) and in class

Task: Write a persuasive essay that defends a position on a topic of your choice.  In your essay, be sure to use at least two of the three basic appeals—to logic (logos), emotion (pathos), or character (ethos).  When you are finished, print a copy of your essay and complete the required annotation/reflection work.  Note:  The packet included below (under “Resource Packet”) contains the full prompt, along with outlines and guidelines; it should be used first and foremost as you write this essay.

Requirements

  • 5-10 paragraphs (more is fine; less is unlikely to be effective)
  • Introduction and conclusion
  • Clear position statement or thesis
  • Usage of at least two of the main appeals (logos, ethos, and pathos)
  • Supporting evidence and detail
  • Inclusion of the counterargument

Resource Packet

Click here to load a document that contains the following:

  1. Prompt & Essay Outline
  2. Required Annotation & Reflection Work
  3. Notes on Rhetoric & Persuasion
  4. Blank SOAPSTONE Outline with Tone Words

You might also reload and review this preliminary document; it connects your work on Animal Farm and “A Modest Proposal” to the persuasive essay.

Grammatical Requirement

You must vary your syntax through the explicit use of

  1. one or more (1+) compound sentences;
  2. one or more (1+) complex sentences;
  3. one or more (1+) compound-complex sentences; and
  4. one or more (1+) sentences that use a semicolon to juxtapose two ideas.

Use the following resources as necessary to help construct these sentences:

Note that these sentence-writing requirements were originally part of the research paper due today; they were commuted to this paper to allow you to vary your style more, style being a central component of persuasion.

If you would like to read a few humorous examples of persuasive writing, use the links below.  Remember that yours should follow the general requirements above; if you read any of the following essays, you should look for rhetorical appeals only, because emulating the tongue-in-cheek style may be more difficult than you think.

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Two quick items:

  1. Click here to load the resource page for your research papers, which are due on May 31. You may also use the tab at the top of this blog.
  2. Click below to load the final, itemized calendar for this school year.  This document contains all due dates, lesson plans, and expectations for the rest of Q4.

Q4 Regents English Calendar: All Assignments | You may also click the image to load a copy of this calendar.

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The Ghost of a Flea (W. Blake, 1819-1820)

Click below to load copies of the two background handouts that juxtapose the Neoclassical and Romantic eras:

  1. Zeitgeists and Romanticism: Background
  2. Pendulum Shift: Neoclassicism and Romanticism

Our representative author for the Romantics is William Blake, especially his Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.  The discussion we held on April 25 gave us some collective insight into the concepts of innocence and experience—what is known as a priori knowledge, or the knowledge that you brought with you, before reading about Romanticism or Blake.  (The opposite knid of knowledge, a posteriori, refers to knowledge that is dependent on experience or evidence.)

To learn about Blake, you might start with his Wikipedia entry.  That is a substantial amount of biographical information, however, and our point is not to become experts in William Blake; our point is to use a pair of his poems to illustrate some of what Romantics focused on.  (Blake was fascinating though. My favorite ancedote, whether is is apocryphal or not, is that he and his wife would perform Paradise Lost naked in their backyard, stopping only when it began to upset the neighbors.)

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zeit·geist | Pronunciation: ‘tsIt-“gIst, ‘zIt | Function: noun | Etymology: German, from Zeit (time) + Geist (spirit) | Date: 1884 | Meaning: the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.

“Zeitgeist” means “the spirit of the times”, and Google reveals this spirit through the aggregation of millions of search queries we receive every day. We have several tools that give insight into global, regional, past and present search trends. These tools are available for you to play with, explore, and learn from. Use them for everything from business research to trivia answers.

The above definition, taken verbatim from Google’s yearly report, gives you the definition we will use to link our earlier studies—of the Victorian Era’s The Invisible Man and the Neoclassical “A Modest Proposal”—to our study of Romanticism.  We will primarily juxtapose Swift to a Romantic poet named William Blake, and we will define juxtaposition simply: the act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.  If we wanted to do it less simply, we could use the etymology:

juxtaposition
1660s, coined in Fr. 17c. from L. juxta “beside, near” + Fr. position. Latin juxta is a contraction of *jugista (adv.), superlative of adj. *jugos “closely connected,” from stem of jugum “yoke,” from jungere “to join” (see jugular).

But I’d only do that to highlight the strange divergence of the roots of words: one Latin word gives you jugular vein and juxtaposition.

When we juxtapose eras like this, we touch upon the idea of a pendulum shift, or the swing from one zeitgeist to its opposite.  This phenomenon might also be called enantiodromia, or the idea that any extreme in a system eventually produces its opposite; the cliche would be that a stereotypical parent in the 1960’s champions free love, peace, and community, and then produces a child who grows up to embody the greed, selfishness, and drive of the 1980’s.  Or, as we glibly suggested in class, Woodstock gives way to synthesizers and hair bands.

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From 3/21 until 3/31, we read and annotated Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal in class, focusing on irony, parody, and satire.  You also dissected its structure and rhetoric, especially the appeals to logic, emotion, and character.  So armed, you have now spent more than a week emulating Swift in small groups:

The site you have been using for this, Typewith.me, allows you to work together in real time, editing language and content according to those directions.  And you’ve done remarkably well with this; after three days of focused work, most of you have completed between 50 and 75 percent of an initial draft.  The final due date remains fluid.  Before one is assigned, and before our spring pseudo-break, you must

  1. leave with me the unique URL of your collaborative essay (e.g., http://typewith.me/regentsenglish10); and
  2. reflect on the process so far.

You’ll be given Friday the 15th to complete the latter, since you are also reflecting then on your comparative analysis essays.  The guidelines for reflection are below.

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