APL: Year-end Reflection

Year-end Reflection

Short answers (300 words maximum each):

When looking at my Unit 3 – 6 portfolio, I see my greatest achievement has been…

…my in-class writing samples and subsequent out-of-class revisions.  I think that I have grown substantially in my skills as a writer, and these assignments showcase that.  While I felt I had a strong English literature background to begin with, I was able to add an extra layer of analysis that was often missing from my in-class writing at the start of the year.  By creating a structural framework for each assignment, I was able to convey more nuanced points that strengthened my writing even as it made the writing process easier.  The feedback on my writing reflects this growth too.  Each time, I took on board the critique I received — I added organization, length, and depth — and the scores on my revisions reflect this growth from a lower Meeting Expectations to a strong Meeting Expectations, with some categories even Exceeding Expectations.  I am especially proud of my Unit 4 Q1 revision for Olive Senior’s poem “Plants.”  I feel that my growth over the course of this year is visible in the progressively better quality of work on my blog.  As the expectations increased over the course of the year to reflect our learning, I was able to rise to the challenge.

When looking at my feedback on my work and Mastery Data (as found in Schoology), I noticed…

…that there is a consistency in my demonstration of literature skills (as evidenced by my spreadsheet).  I received a Meeting Expectations or higher in almost every category.  The few Approaching Expectations have been in the area of Respect and Responsibility when I was unable to complete the assignment with the rest of the class due to my absences for international sports competitions.  However, I think it is a testament to my character — in particular, my perseverance and dedication — that I was able to catch up on all of the missing assignments, completing them to a high standard.  It has been intensely rewarding to finish strong in my senior year.  

Considering most of second semester was virtual learning, I’d like to say…

What a year it has been!   I am proud of how I have navigated the challenges that have been thrown my way.  It hasn’t always been easy!  I’ve missed class for field hockey competitions; I’ve missed class on account of the Hong Kong protests; and now we are all dealing with virtual learning as part of the global disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic.  Despite it all, I am pleased with my growth in AP Literature this year.  No senior slump for me!  It did not matter that the classes were virtual.  I was an active and involved participant up until the very last class.

When reviewing my goal for Semester 2, I can say that I…

…have achieved my goal of consistency in AP Literature.  In the first semester, I fell short of this consistency, particularly in categories C4 and C5, and it hurt my semester grade.  An important component of the letter grade rubric is consistent demonstrated mastery, something I believe I have been able to achieve this semester.

A reflection on a Unit 3, 4, or 5 EQ is…  (Include the EQ and response)

Unit 3 EQ: How can I refine my voice and style to communicate my messages effectively?

In my time in AP Literature, I have learned that structuring a persuasive piece of writing is nearly as important as the substance of what is being said, for organizational structure allows the writer to immediately improve the effectiveness of communication.  Through trial and error, I developed a routine that consistently worked for me.  I discovered that I am most successful when I begin with a flow chart and then organize my thought bubbles with a topic sentence for each paragraph.  This strategy allows my thoughts — and thus my writing — to flow naturally as I develop my ideas.  (On the other end of the spectrum, I have come to dread the formulaic and rigid “Hamburger Model.”)

Voice and style are unique to each writer and what he or she seeks to share in his or her writing.  Personally, when I write, I strive for my voice to demonstrate clarity and knowledge.  By focusing on the basics, I have been able to develop the skills required to construct complex arguments.  While there is still plenty of room for me to improve, I believe that in AP Literature, I have demonstrated a natural writing style (if a bit formal!) that is structured and persuasive. 

Thank you for a wonderful experience in AP Literature to conclude my high school journey.  I am most certainly better prepared for college as a result of my time in your class. 

APL: U3 (F) Reduced Scene

Act 4 Scene 3 


King: Hamlet is dangerous, but he’s popular. We must send him away. 

Enter Rosencrantz, Guildenstern

King: So, what happened?

Rosencrantz: He won’t tell us where the body is.

King: Where is he? Bring him to me

They enter

King: Hamlet, where’s Polonius?

Hamlet: At supper.

King: What do you mean?

Hamlet: He’s not eating, he’s being eaten!  A fat king and a lean beggar are equal on the worm’s table.  That’s that.

King: I can’t believe you said that!

Hamlet speaks in more circular gibberish

King: Where is Polonius?

Hamlet: In heaven.  Send someone to find him.  If he isn’t there, you can go to hell to check. Though, if you can’t find him this month, you’ll probably smell him in the lobby.

King (addressing attendants): Go find him there.

Hamlet: Don’t worry, he won’t run away.

Attendants leave

King: This was a stupid move.  I fear for your safety, so I’m sending you to England.  The boat is ready.

Hamlet: England?

King: Yes.

Hamlet: “Farewell, dear Mother”

King: I’m your father!

Hamlet: “Man and wife is one flesh, and so, my mother”

Hamlet Exits

King addressing Rosencrantz, Guildenstern: Make him leave ASAP and follow him. Give the King of England this letter.

Everyone but King exits

King: I will ask the king of England to kill Hamlet.  I won’t be happy until he’s dead!

U4-10 Min. Drill+

Many works of literature contain a character who intentionally deceives others. The character’s dishonesty may be intended either to help or to hurt. Such a character, for example, may choose to mislead others for personal safety, to spare someone’s feelings, or to carry out a crime. Choose a novel or play in which a character deceives others. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze the motives for that character’s deception and discuss how the deception contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.  (upload a visual of your response in this dropbox)


Unit 4: Family Ties Discussion Post #1

Choose a character for which “family” is significant and explain how that character might feel about family

In the novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie Mae Crawford is
conspicuously aware of the absence of a true family home — a mother, a father, and a stable household.  Instead, her only family relation is her poor grandmother who takes care of her.  While Janie knows that her mother is alive through Nan’s “sense,” she does not display any desire to meet her mother or rekindle that relationship. Nan is the only family that Janie needs despite Nan’s well-intentioned but misguided actions, such as when she married her off to Logan Killicks for stability rather than love. As a result, Janie displays a fierce independence and even rebellion of the status quo. The novel is centered around her search for identity in a society that actively seeks to repress female power. Despite the trials and hardship that she faces, she is able to carve her own path and find contentment in her life, absent of any family or husband.

Damien Tarala – APL: Q3 Checkpoint Grade reflection

Please examine your Summative and formative work since the Mid-year Checkpoint grade in December. Please reflect on where you believe you are now (A, B, C or D range) and justify your thinking. I will look over and give you feedback based on my thoughts. We will also be conferencing if there is a discrepancy in our judgment. To be clear, this is NOT your final grade for the course – we still have a quarter, but it is a good chance to think about your progress to this point.


I think that I am in the A range at this point in the year.  I have had a strong performance this past quarter and have continued to be present and active both in and out of the classroom.  I have caught up on my work and even taken the initiative to reach out to you to discuss my AP Literature Q2 revision in preparation for the upcoming AP exam which will be in a similar format.  I updated and reviewed the spreadsheet which I have linked below and am pleased to say that the grades are all ME’s or EE’s.  I think that this is an improvement from the start of the year where I was less organized.  There are a few exceptions in the respect and responsibility category due to my absence in Argentina and consequent stranding in Istanbul that made classwork impossible to complete.  I think it is worth noting that I still completed them.  However, despite these challenges, I think that I have navigated the year tremendously.  It has not been smooth sailing, with my absences, the protests, and then the global disruption with a pandemic, but I am proud of the work I have accomplished.  I think that I will continue to succeed on the final AP exam and I hope to get this as my final grade.



APL: U4: AP Q1 Revision

Q1 Plants


Olive Senior is a doomsayer in her poem “Plants.”  She paints a picture of the “deceptive” and duplicitous nature of plant life as she launches into a prophetic warning of the “imperial” ambitions of plants that are bent on conquering the human race — a message which she crafts through the use of vivid imagery, pointed diction, and personification.


The author seeks to enlighten her audience to the “imperialistic” nature of plants and their “colonizing” ambitions with graphic phrases like “armies of mangrove on the march” and “shoots bent on conquest.”  The tone of voice of the author reveals the urgent plea, calling the audience to take heed of her message that plants are superior in the race for domination.  Humans may be ahead now, but with scant attention, plants are slowly creeping and catching up, right under our noses.  While vivid imagery is used throughout her poem, Ms. Senior employs this rhetorical device most noticeably in the first four stanzas to paint an apocalyptic vision of grasping tendrils intending to choke the life out of humans.  


Ms. Senior crafts her message through strong words that deliberately jar the reader.  From the first sentence, “Plants are deceptive,” she sets the tone.  This direct address to the audience is meant as a pointed accusation, one that the audience cannot ignore.  She seeks to share her knowledge of vegetation’s secret, urging the reader to take heed.   She then goes on to use pointed diction such as “sinister,” “imperialistic,” and ”conquest;” these are not words that one would not normally associate with plant life.  This deliberate discontinuity — hitting the reader with descriptions that seem at odds with the passive and non-sentient nature of plants — culminates in the last paragraph where the author even condenses such terms into a list for emphasis: “profligate, extravagant, reckless, improvident, weed.”  The negative implications are clear.  All plants are, at base, weeds.  The audience needs to take notice of these uncontrolled and unwanted weeds: concrete action must be taken immediately.


The author also employs personification, especially in the fifth and sixth stanzas, to underscore the insidious nature of flora.  Plants are not capable of the human activities of hitchhiking, surf-riding, and parachuting, and yet Olive paints them as sentient, crafted and engineered for the goal of seduction and conquest fully competitive with humans in the rivalry for dominance.  With the tone of a pariah — a lonely voice crying in the wilderness — the use of personification heightens the urgency, as if a cunning enemy is gaining the upper hand.  Sentient plants surround us.  It might just be too late.  Mankind is blind and has been seduced by “that sweet fruit.” 


One can argue that, in this poem, the author is being overtly hyperbolic — deliberately using descriptions that border on the absurd in an almost tongue-in-cheek manner — but, if this is the case, the impact is made even more powerful by the fact that the descriptions ascribed to plants are actually inescapably true.  Human creation throughout history has always eventually succumbed to nature’s might.  The forests ultimately swallowed the greatest monuments of the greatest civilizations — as they will presumably do our own when it eventually winds down.  The author’s premise is not so easily dismissed.


Indeed, even if we heed the author’s warnings, our resistance may all be for naught.  “They’ll outlast us, they were always there one step ahead of us.”  In her poem “Plants,” Ms. Senior delivers a stark warning to the audience, imploring them to wake up to the reality of nature’s inescapable conquest.  Maybe that cute little succulent is not so innocent after all…