When looking at my Unit 3 – 6 portfolio, I see my greatest achievement has been…
I think my greatest achievement this unit was my reading of Heart of Darkness in Unit 4. Heart of Darkness is easily one of my most challenging reads in my entire life — I spent hours agonizing over a few pages every night. However, it is also one of the most rewarding. In class, my group mates and I spent hours unpacking the symbolism, language, and narrative techniques in the book. One of my favorite conversations was about whether or not Conrad could be considered racist. Apart from the help of my peers, I also had access to the critical analyses at the end of the Norton edition, which served as a window into the academic interpretation of the classic.
Heart of Darkness encouraged me to read on a whole new level of complexity, something I would not have gained had I not challenged myself with reading it. From Marlow’s credibility as a narrator down to the most specific symbols (rivets!), I tried to take everything I read past its face value and ask the question: Why did Conrad choose to include this? Hopefully, I can maintain this rigor for books I read in the future.
When looking at my feedback on my work and Mastery Data (as found in Schoology), I noticed…
My formative and summative work have consistently met the Exceeding Expectations standard on the rubric. Almost all of my masteries are above 95%.
Considering most of second semester was virtual learning, I’d like to say…
Virtual learning has definitely been a struggle for me, especially as a senior in the second semester. Initially, virtual learning felt almost like an extended holiday, meaning I didn’t feel the pressure to keep on track with my formative and summative work. Later on, as workload grew, it was very difficult to go back and finish old assignments.
I do think I was able to recover after quarantine had settled in. I finished all my assignments from Unit 4 and Unit 3, and I eventually caught up with my Q1 rewrite and most recently, my original poem. Although I didn’t make the most out of online learning, I believe I was able to recognize my mistakes and correct them as the semester progressed.
When reviewing my goal for Semester 2, I can say that I…
I had two goals for semester 2: to write with more detail and specificity, and to improve my respect and responsibility.
My performance on analysis assignments shows that I was able to meet my academic goal for the semester. My performance on timed in-class writing has improved substantially, from scoring in the 5 and 6 range (out of 9), to a consistent 6 out of 6 in the second semester. My analysis in the Teaching Table and Novel Lecture assignments demonstrates my improved ability to use in-text evidence to support a claim or thesis about the text. I think this is mainly because I started practicing more timed writing assignments in preparation for the AP exam, which allowed me to write faster and more precisely.
In regards to my work habits, like mentioned above, I didn’t completely meet my goal. While I did spend more time on formative work as the semester went on, I still didn’t submit everything exactly on time. Moreover, my two late summative assignments show that I still have a lot of work to do on this front. Although this is partly because of virtual learning, I acknowledge that I could have adjusted better than I did.
EQ Reflection: How does literature get to the “heart of the matter?”
In sophomore year, we read “The Things They Carried.” What stuck with me the most wasn’t any particular story O’Brien told, but what he concluded about storytelling. In one chapter, after telling an intensely visceral and poignant story, O’Brien revealed that none of it was true. In fact, although his book is based off his true experiences in Vietnam, almost all of the characters and stories in his book are inventions.
When I first read his confession, I didn’t understand why an author would reveal that his fraudulence. After all, I wanted to believe these enthralling stories were real. It was only later when I realized that although O’Brien wasn’t writing literal truths, it didn’t really matter. In fact, sometimes the truest truths are better communicated through fiction.
To me, O’Brien’s principle is one reason why literature is so important. Through fiction, good literature can often get at beliefs, values, and truths (in other words, the “heart of the matter”) better than facts or logic.
In the books I read for AP Lit this year, every author used their writing as a vehicle to communicate something about the world. Conrad’s lengthy descriptions of the dense, ominous, and expansive African jungle whisked me into another world, which he used to explore the impacts of European colonialism. The artful style in Song of Solomon, reminiscent of spoken word, helped me understand the ways slavery affected the psyche of individual African Americans. Hamlet’s complex characters explore the suffering caused human appetites, developing ideas about betrayal and death.
Literature has the unique power to build emotional investments in its world and its characters, allowing us to better understand ourselves. After all, the subject of literature is humanity — our morals and virtues, our desires, our emotions, our world — and literature is the mirror we hold up for self-examination.