Final Reflection

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

… the improvement in my writing skills in general. For example, I feel like my essay writing has improved a lot as I learn how to properly analyse themes in texts and the literary devices used by the author that support them. In addition, I think that my creative writing has also improved a great deal. I am especially proud of my original poem. I really wanted to push myself with the poem, so I chose to do a villanelle. It was really difficult and required four different drafts of multiple ideas before I managed to write my final version. I also wanted to explore a different theme other than my usual romance-inspired work, and instead focused on the setting of a war-torn city and a different kind of love (more platonic). I had so much fun with all the writing assignments this semester and I’m really excited to continue writing in university.

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

… that above all the other competencies, I have improved the most in C9 (I can revise (or rehearse) to develop a wide-ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively) and C12 (I can revise (or rehearse) to create a balance of generalization and specific, illustrative detail). I feel that these two competencies are very close to each other and they both relate to how I discuss texts, analyze them, and express my opinions about them. I think that it’s really interesting to see this connection— how with the help of projects like the Novel Teaching Table, the Novel Lecture, the in-class essays, and the original poem, my vocabulary has improved alongside my skills with noticing more general themes and using detail to back up my claims.

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

… that initially I was very worried, believing that it would be very difficult to communicate. I think when learning about literature, it is important to have an environment where collaboration and communication come easily. This allows for people to not only express their own opinions, but also learn from the perspectives of others and I always really valued that about our class. However, I was relieved to find that I had no reason to worry. I found it surprisingly easy to have our discussions as per usual, both in breakout rooms and as a whole class. I liked collaborating on tasks like the Hamlet reduced scenes script, as well as the Novel Lecture groups. One of my highlights from this semester was also definitely the Hamlet shared inquiry and I think it’s amazing that that was able to be carried out.

As well as that, I was worried that the combination of taking things online plus being a second semester senior would make it very hard to remain motivated. Though I definitely felt that at times, I think the decision to go straight into Unit 4 instead of immediately continuing with Unit 3 once virtual school started was a good one. It forced me to buckle down immediately as it was a largely a unit that required a lot of independent work, and that momentum managed to carry me through the rest of the semester.

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

… have been successful in achieving that goal. In my last portfolio reflection, I had stated that I wanted to develop my close-reading skills, and subsequently improve my literary analysis skills as well. Not only did I want to do this to help me with the actual drafting process of essays (as I felt that I struggled a lot with coming up with a thesis and planning body paragraphs) but also so that I can read higher level books in the future. Although this is an ongoing goal that doesn’t really have a definable endpoint, I can definitely say that I feel like I have improved greatly. This is largely with the help of both the novels I read for this class this semester (Heart of Darkness and Pride and Prejudice) as well as the emphasis on essay-writing to help us prepare for the AP exam. Reading the novels and taking such a thorough approach to analysing them in both the Novel Teaching Table and Novel Lecture project really encouraged me to pay close attention to details and how the stylistic choices of the author can create a certain theme and set a tone that influence the rest of the book and how each character is perceived. I can’t wait to take the experience I had from reading and analysing these novels into other books that I plan to read in the future. 

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

Unit 5: What are the complexities and paradoxes of “family”?

According to Oxford Languages, there are two primary definitions of “family”. The first is “a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit”. The parameters of who is involved are clearly defined. It emphasises physical closeness and familiarity. The second definition of family is “all the descendants of a common ancestor”. Unlike the first one, the limits of whoever consists of a family are far more vague and instead encompassing a far larger group. This, in turn, draws away from the sense of intimacy established in the first definition. These two somewhat paradoxical statements only serve to illustrate just how complicated the idea of “family” has grown in society. So many people all across so many countries have so many different experiences with what “family” is. To some, it is something purely transactional. You’re born. You help out around the house and you’re a promise of security and support for your parents in their old age. In return, you are fed and sheltered and educated. Everyone has a clear role. To others, it is completely different. Relationships are built less on inborn social structures and norms but rather on nurtured connections. There aren’t any requirements to being a part of the “family” except for those tight-knit bonds. Then there’s the spectrum of families that exist beyond these two extremes. The concept of “family” is so broad and so intangible that I believe that there is and there never will be a single way of defining it and all attempts to do so will never truly incorporate all its complexities.


U5 AP MyAP In-Class Essay FRQ Practice

Q1: “Lucy” by Jamaica Kincaid

Kincaid highlights and exaggerates the conflicting values and upbringings of Lucy and Maria through her choice of point of view and narrative voice. By using first person, readers are given an insight into the perspective of Lucy as she navigates life in America and her complex relationship with Maria. The choice of first person allows the audience to learn more about the differences between the characters especially through Lucy’s viewpoint as Kincaid opens the window into the character’s head. We hear her thoughts about Mariah as she recounts her experiences with spring and her fascination with “flowers bending in the breeze”, questioning “how does a person get to be that way?” This allows the reader to solidify their suppositions that their may be some tension between the characters by explicitly showing them Lucy’s view on the situation. In addition, the fact that the story is in first person allows us to understand Lucy’s history and contempt of “daffodils” and that representation of springtime. This confession to the readers first and then to Mariah allows the audience to fully understand the path of reconciliation and understanding that Mariah and Lucy embark on by the end of the passage. If the story had been in any other tense, we as readers would not have the same understanding of the relationship between the characters that seems to be driving both character development and plot of the book.

Q2: characters and their differing perspectives/values

In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the tension between John Proctor’s desire to stay in good faith and Abigail William’s selfishness illustrates Miller’s negative view of the different facets of human nature. Abigail, is the antagonist of the story. After having had an affair with John Proctor, a married man, and being kicked out of their house by his wife, Elizabeth, Abigail transforms her bitter sentiment into ambition to accuse Elizabeth of being a witch so she can be rid of her. She acts in ultimate greed and selfishness, believing this action will allow her to have John Proctor all to herself. Abigail is an explicit depiction of evil, ironic because she is the one who is accusing others of the same. On the other hand, John appears to be a selfless man who loves his wife and is a good neighbour and Christian. On the surface level to everyone in the town, he is an ideal man. However, below the surface, the biggest chip on his shoulder is the affair he had with Abigail. This relationship with her contradicts the view of perfection he seems to have on the surface level. This presumed perfection before discovery of something much darker is representative of Miller’s view of human nature. Even those who appear good are inherently bad. The fact that he had an affair with Abigail, the established face of evil in the book, further taints his character, something that Proctor himself realises by the end of the play when he laments over the ruination of his “name”. These two characters illustrate another two sides of human nature as well: Abigail, so obsessed with herself, and John Proctor, so concerned by how others view him. This dynamic between the characters, where they seem like opposite sides if the same dice, drives forward Arthur Miller’s assertion that human nature is tainted by evil in many different forms.

U4 Original Poem: Villanelle



I watch the fading of the light

The sun looks down from scarlet skies

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.


Darkness falls and sorrow bites

Fallen stone, protection’s guise

I watch the fading of the light.


Mother says it’ll be alright

Shaking hands and stifled cries

“Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.”


Out of mind and out of sight

Of gunnèd men and hounding eyes

I watch the fading of the light.


Battered bodies, battle’s blight

Satan sings, and man’s demise

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.


Heart of darkness, wartime spite

A crumbling city’s Hopeful dies 

I watch the fading of the light

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.

U4 Q1 Revision “Plants”

Q1: “Plants”, Olive Senior

In her poem “Plants”, Olive Senior explores the interactions between plants and humans, as well as their persistence in our society. However, she takes an unconventional approach as she builds relationships amongst the speaker, the audience, and the plants by focusing on characterizing the plants as intrusive and overpowering. Senior uses a variety of literary techniques such as personification, diction, and enjambment to emphasize the interconnectedness of the parasitic nature of plants on humankind.

By using diction and personifying the plants, Senior effectively creates an imbalance of power on the plants’ behalf. She describes roots that are “bent on conquest”, seedlings that “seek wide open spaces”, “armies of mangroves”, and burrs that have “colonizing ambitions”. Utilizing verbs such as “bent” and “seek” creates a sense of an action that the plants are carrying out and therefore humanizes them. She convinces the audience that plants aren’t just dormant organisms that live in the backdrop of our lives, but hold so much autonomy and power that they can be compared to other people. This relationship is given a negative tone with the phrases “colonizing ambitions” and “armies of mangroves”, implying that the plants have the capability of acting in such a way that they consume the areas around them. The reference to colonization also evokes images of exploitation and despair in the minds of the readers, thus paralleling the same tragedy with the actions of the plants. The word “colonizing” also allows the reader to infer that the plants behave in a similar manner to colonizers, feeding off the land and the people (in this, case society) for personal benefit and providing nothing in return. Furthermore, the use of the word “armies” incites images of weaponry and violence. Personification adds to this parasitic view of plants because it implies that as organisms comparable with humans, the plants are acting consciously to “conquest” and fulfill their “colonizing ambitions”. These comparisons convince the reader of the interconnectedness of the lives between plants and themselves, showing how prominent the plants are in the world around us. Senior uses personification and diction to highlight to the reader that plants are powerful creatures that can a significant negative impact on humankind.

Senior uses enjambment to depict the invasive nature of the plants on society. Enjambment creates a sense of displacement and almost discomfort as Senior urges the reader to hurry to the next line or stanza to complete a thought. This is most effectively displayed as she discusses the “parachuting seeds and other//airborne traffic dropping in” as well as advising the audience that “we must infer/a sinister not to say imperialistic//grand design” when considering plants. The enjambment teases the end of phrases and ideas when referring to “and other//airborne traffic” as well as starting with “we must infer” and giving the audience directions on what exactly they should infer on the next line with “a sinister not to say imperialistic//grand design”. This encourages the reader to progress from idea to idea in the very chaotic poem by providing a hook at the end of the lines. In addition, the awkward places at which the enjambment occurs has a jarring effect on the reader, paralleling the message of the poem that the plants are intrusive and dominating our world. By interrupting the flow of the words with enjambment, Senior embodies the nature of the plants in her poem, suggesting that plants take on the same invasive role in our world as well.

In conclusion, Olive Senior uses a variety of literary devices to emphasize her point to the audience that plants have taken on a role that is intrusive, parasitic, and destructive. She does so by characterization of the plants with personification and diction, thus creating gravitas and importance behind the actions of the plants as well as enjambment to highlight the invasive role that they play in society. 


U3 Hamlet Reduced Scene Script

Link to script document

Act 3 Scene 1

King: You can’t find a single reason why he’s acting so crazy?

Rosencrantz: I mean, he said that he’s confused but he’s not saying why.

Guildenstern: And he’s avoiding, like, all our questions.

Queen: Well, were you nice to him?

Rosencrantz: Yes. He wasn’t too interested in us, but we passed some actors and he seemed to like them.

Polonius: That’s true.

King: Okay, well, go indulge him in that interest.

Rosencrantz: Um. Alright.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.


King: I think he’s acting so crazy because he’s in love with you Ophelia

Queen: Yeah I hope it’s your beauty

Polonius: We will listen and spy on your conversation with Hamlet to determine if this is the reason why.


Queen exits.  Polonius and King hide. Exit Ophelia.

Enter Hamlet


Hamlet: “To be, or not to be: that is the question:” Death is like a little sleep which wouldn’t be so bad, so maybe I should just kill myself… but then again, who knows what comes after death? What if it’s worse? On the other hand, all this suffering is kind of a drag. Arrogant men, unrequited love, bad customer service… I mean, who wants to endure all that? The only reason we don’t all kill ourselves is because we’re scared of what comes after death. pause Shoot, here comes Ophelia.


Enter Ophelia. 


Ophelia: How are you? 

Hamlet: Good, good. Yeah, good.

Ophelia: I have some letters that you wrote me that I will give back to you.

Hamlet: … But I didn’t give you anything.

Ophelia: No, you did! Beautiful letters and goods! But their beauty is fading away now, so take them back. That usually happens when the giver turns out to be an asshole.

Hamlet: Uhh, are you modest? Are you beautiful?

Ophelia: What are you talking about?

Hamlet: I’m saying that if you are modest and beautiful, your modesty should have nothing to do with your beauty. 

Ophelia: What do you mean? How can beauty relate to modesty?

Hamlet: Well, you see, beauty can more easily turn a modest girl into a whore than can modesty turn a beautiful girl into a virgin. Yeah, you know, that used to confuse me about you, but now I’ve figured it out. I’m realising that I never did love you, you know.

Ophelia: You don’t? I believed you.

Hamlet: You shouldn’t have. We’re all messed up, you can’t have trusted what I said.

Ophelia: I guess you fooled me then.

Hamlet: Matter of fact, why don’t you go save yourself from ruining yourself even more and get yourself to a nunnery? I’m already ruined, and we can’t have any more of that in the world. Just go.