teach students the skills necessary to succeed not only on the AP English Literature and Composition Exam but also in college-level reading, thinking, discussing, and writing about literature. Strategies for teaching the literary work, complete with prereading, classroom reading, and postreading activities. Another thing that soon became apparent as I worked through the essays was that many students didnt understand the phrase the meaning of the work as a whole means theme. Thanks to Sarah Soper and Melissa Smith for sharing their thoughts from the AP Lit reading this year on Question. I read a 9 essay that explored Kurtzs origins in Heart of Darkness and how he transformed psychologically throughout the text; clearly, there was much discussion in class on Freudian analysis.
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I remember of all the Gatsby essays, there was one that dug nuclear family vs joint family essay deeply into Fitzgeralds judgment on the materialistic and depraved lifestyles of NYC in the 1920s, using Gatsbys mysterious origins as a catalyst into what Fitzgerald was really trying to get. Essays that scored in the upper half did a better job at presenting the overall meaning of the work in the introductory paragraph and in every paragraph that followed. We discussed at our table what unusual or mysterious could be taken as and also what it meant by origin. Frankenstein and, the Great Gatsby were the two most popular choices for this years prompt. They included apt and specific textual evidence and explicitly explained how it helped the author to create meaning. Reflections by Sarah Soper: When my students came back from the AP test this year (and of course waited the 2 days until we could discuss it I was really excited when I heard Q3s topic. Make sure if you go into plot that you are doing so only because it supports what the prompt is asking and illustrates the overall meaning that is the basis for your argument. Many students still followed the order of the prompt to organize their essays; the theme was clearly stated in the introduction in a solid thesis statement, and each paragraph explicitly stated how the mysterious or unusual origins helped to establish the theme. And finally, along the same lines of showing personality, it was refreshing to read essays that werent on the same book that everyone else was writing about (cough, cough, Frankenstein ). When shes not teaching or grading essays, shes busy being a wife and mommy, reading, working out, and attending Michigan football games.
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