The Best of 2013-2014: The Literary Banquet

I finished my last year of teaching AP this year.  I got a new job, and will probably not teach AP for a long time.  It’s pretty bittersweet to not be a part of this great class.

For those of you who haven’t taught it, AP English Literature is an English teacher’s dream.  Although you have to make a lot of decisions in terms of the curriculum, the caliber of student and the caliber of discussion are unparalleled. This is the class where students are able to connect personally with literature while still working on advanced analysis skills.  You can push kids to become so much more than they ever thought they could be. 

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One of the best experiences of my teaching has been the three years I conducted The AP Literary Banquet.  AP students already took the test, and were usually pretty zonked by the end of the year.  So, I always made their final our class Literary Banquet.  We celebrated our literary accomplishments with food and fun.  Here are the major components of The Literary Banquet:

  • We would all dress up like characters from the novels we read as a class.  I tended to be something kind of humorous—a drowned Ophelia, Big Brother, the green light from The Great Gatsby. My seniors were so in to this.  They were so convincing, and some of them utterly REFUSED to get out of character—I’ve encountered some pretty intense Victor Frankensteins and O’Briens. 
  • Students write letters as their characters to other characters attending the banquet.  They also have to present these letters in a creative, fun way.
  • Students MUST bring a literary inspired dish.  I have tasted Nurse Ratchet’s “Vegetable” soup, Myrtle Wilson’s love potion, and even Siddartha’s “Om”meal  cookies—all delicious.

It has always been a lot of fun, and usually a pretty emotional time with my students.  It is also when I gave my final speech to them, and presented them with their final presents: a notebook specifically picked out for each student with a letter from me inside.  These will always be some of my favorite memories with my students, and it always solidified the learning community created in AP.  Hopefully you find these resources helpful and inspirational!

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First Impressions: Revamping the Syllabus

Probably because it’s boring.  Earlier this summer I read an amazing blog post from Tona Hangen on giving your syllabus/course expectations a makeover.  It inspired me to make my syllabus awesome this year.  But first, let’s look at the past.  This is my AP Literature and Composition Syllabus from last year:

AP Syllabus Page 1AP Syllabus Page 2AP Syllabus Page 3

SNOOZE FEST!  I barely want to read it (although it is pure teaching gold).  So, I set about to change the look of my syllabus.  In a world so filled with stimulating visual media, I figured it was high time that the introduction to my class looked a little snazzier.  Tona used a mac (that lucky devil), but I was stuck with using Microsoft Office 2007.  So I simply downloaded a newsletter template from the MS Publisher online resources (they already had one with books) and went to work.  Sure doing this took me a while, but I am so please to pass these out to my students.  What it turned into was basically a handbook to my class instead of simply a set of rules and expectations.  Although the page size went up, I feel like there is more room to breathe with the new one.  This really was a fulfilling project and I hope that if you have the time that you will think of restructuring your syllabus to make it more appealing to the eye!

Reasons I love this:

  1. Allows me to personalize and add some spice to my syllabus.
  2. Allows me to set the tone for the year right off the bat (the tone of awesome).
  3. Keeps students interested because it is less dense and has visual stimulation.
  4. Sets my syllabus apart from all the boring ones.
  5. Has a table of contents, so students can easily find information at a later date.
  6. It is easier to keep track of than a normal syllabus because it is unique.
  7. It’s just so darn pretty.

With that said, Here is my new AP Syllabus 2013:  

Page 1: Contact Info, Course Description, Course Goals, Table of Contents

Page 1: Contact Info, Course Description, Course Goals, Table of Contents

 

 

Page 2: Rules, Expectations, Materials, and Schoology.com

Page 2: Rules, Expectations, Materials, and Schoology.com

Page 3: Homework and Late Work Policy

Page 3: Homework and Late Work Policy

Page 4: The Writing Portfolio

Page 4: The Writing Portfolio

Page 5: Grading and Independent Reading

Page 5: Grading and Independent Reading

Page 6: Wicked Word Wall, Major Works Data Sheets, Extra Credit and Vocabulary

Page 6: Wicked Word Wall, Major Works Data Sheets, Extra Credit and Vocabulary

Page 7: Discussion, Discipline, Plagiarism and Cheating

Page 7: Discussion, Discipline, Plagiarism and Cheating

Page 8: The AP Test

Page 8: The AP Test

Page 9: Course of Events by Theme

Page 9: Course of Events by Theme

Page 10: Teacher Profile, Note to Class, Awesome John Green Quote

Page 10: Teacher Profile, Note to Class, Awesome John Green Quote

I always expect so much out of our students, and I love how I can show them right off the bat that I am willing to work hard for them as well.  If you are a teacher and would like an editable copy of this, just comment below with your email or email me at The WordyTeacher@gmail.com.