"Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information." -Paulo Friere

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Various film versions of Macbeth

Shakespeare probably never imagined that students would be studying his plays in school. He wrote them for audiences seeing live performances at the Globe theater--so to truly understand these plays, we need to move from being readers to being audiences.

Unfortunately, we can't watch a live performance of Macbeth here in Taiwan. What we can do is watch film versions, which take the play and adapt it into a new genre.

As we watch, take notes on choices made by the director and actors as they interpret Shakespeare's text. Consider the following:

  • lighting
  • props, costumes
  • settings
  • actions of the actors added to the basic stage directions (blocking)
  • the ways the actors deliver the lines
  • what lines are cut out

Various versions of Macbeth besides the two we watch in class:

Patrick Stewart giving the "Dagger" soliloquy

Patrick Stewart and the Banquet scene

Ian McKellen analyzes the "Tomorrow" speech

Final fight scene in Polanski's Macbeth

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Multitudinous Seas


I want you to get a sense for just how ubiquitous Shakespeare's words are in our popular culture. For your homework, I want you to find some text that directly alludes to this play.

For example, Faulkner titled his novel The Sound and the Fury, alluding to the last line in Macbeth's famous soliloquy on the pointlessness of life.

In a comment on this post, link to something on the internet that quotes or alludes to a line in Macbeth. With the link, write a short paragraph describing the text and how it uses the quote. What new purpose are the words put to? Then, read two or three of your classmates' links so we can have a conversation about them next week. Make sure and sign in with your real name so I can give you credit.

I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Presentation Skills


Here are some videos that will help our conversations about presentation skills:

How to open and close presentations:

 Present like Steve Jobs: (using body language in presentations)

Weak and Strong Exmples:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Historical Context for The Grapes of Wrath


Please look at these photographs and read these facts about the dust bowl.

Choose 2 slides and respond to them. What historical context did you learn? If you are responding to a photo, describe it. How does seeing this image or learning this fact help you to understand The Grapes of Wrath better?

Here is the link to the video I want you to watch next. Note similarities and differences between this contemporary documentary and the issues described in The Grapes of Wrath.


Book Review / Movie Poster power point


Here are my tips and tricks for your book review /  movie poster assignment!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Revising and Editing


As we revise and edit our literary research papers, here are some great resources to help:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Jane Eyre genres

Jane Eyre could fit into multiple genres: romance, gothic horror, bildungsroman (coming of age).

1. Here are some trailers for various Jane Eyre movies. Which of the genres does each trailer emphasize?

1943 Version

1983 Version

1996 Version

2011 Version

2. Explore what the central conflict is according to each of these lenses. 

3. In what ways does the novel fit and exceed the conventions of each genre?

4. How does the inclusion of these various elements impact the theme of the work as a whole?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Stereotypes and Things Fall Apart

As we dive into Things Fall Apart, we're taking a moment to think about stereotypes of Africa, reading and responding to the satirical article "How to Write About Africa."

Next, please check out this Instagram feed:  Everyday Africa

Click through 10 or 15 pictures that interest you. How do these pictures portray different sides of this vast continent than are usually written about?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Domestic Violence in House of the Spirits, Kitchen God's Wife, and Things Fall Apart


All three world lit books in our "Times of Great Social Change" unit depict graphic scenes of domestic violence, including rape. These are tough issues to talk about, but also important parts of these books.

First, I'd like you to think about why we don't censor these books here, despite these disturbing topics.

Next, I'd like you to consider this definition of "rape culture", and think of examples you might have seen.

How many men in Asia have raped someone?

Definition of rape culture

Analyzing Rape Culture

Victim Blaming: Abused Women Behind Bars

The legal system not protecting victims

Violence Against Women: It's a Men's Issue

Tough Guise: How Boys are Taught to be Violent

What evidence do we have of rape culture in these books? What in the societies shaped Wen Fu and Estaban Trueba into men capable of such systemic violence?

What are positive things that we--both guys and girls--can do to prevent sexual violence in our communities?

10 Things to End Rape Culture

How can we widen our views of "acceptable" masculinity and femininity? What do the novels tell us about ways to push the boundaries of the gender restrictions that keep us so narrowly defined?

source here.

Also--if time:

Violence against Women in Video Games

Gamers' response to critiques of violence

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fail better!

Seniors-- here is the message that I want to share with you today as you get your first AP essays back:

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all -- in which case, you fail by default." --JK Rowling

Here's another way to think about it, from the blog Zen Pencils:


Monday, September 9, 2013

Interview Tips for Sophomores

10th Graders,

For your first major paper, you will be writing a Biographical Portrait of one of your grandparents.

Here is the Assignment Sheet, in case you lost your copy.

Your first step is to interview them. Here are some hints to make sure that it goes smoothly:

Top 10 Interview Tips

My favorite tips from Ms. Ming Liu:

"Use neutral language. If you use emotional words, you skew the interview. Even seasoned professionals make this mistake, especially when they’re rushing to nail a quote. Question: “Are you happy that you won the Nobel Peace Prize?” Guess what the answer will be: “Yes, I am HAPPY that blah blah.” Instead, frame the question without emotion: “How do you feel about winning the Nobel Peace Prize?” Better! But if you do your reporting and know something about the interview subject, you could frame an even more dynamic neutral-but-fact-filled question: “Your grandmother, who scrubbed floors to buy your first chemistry kit, died of cancer two weeks ago. What would you say to her right now?” Can you imagine how rich the answer to that question would be?"

"Ask follow up questions. Sometimes, you have to dig a little bit more. A couple of questions might be in order. Help your subject to complete the thought. They are in their own heads and usually don’t realize that information is missing."

Remember to write your interview questions in advance and record the interview to share with me!

Here are some sample interview questions that you can choose from as you prepare for your interview:

Biographical Interview Questions . You may also come up with your own questions.

Remember to ask your grandparent for a picture or object that was important to them, in order to share that in your Appendix.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Introduction to The Crucible

10th graders,

Here is the Introduction to The Crucible power point I gave in class today. You're responsible for knowing the terms found within it.

The House of the Spirits Webquest

AP 12th graders,
Please complete the following webquest to prepare for our unit on The House of the Spirits.

The House of the Spirits Webquest
Part 1: Historical Context

Source A. CIA, Chile, and Allende (homework)

Source B. History.com: Allende's death (in class)

1) After the election of Allende, US President Nixon funded and instructed the CIA to disrupt and help overthrow the newly elected president.  What actions did they take to hurt President Allende and why might they have done this?  Do you agree with these actions?  Why or why not?  How does Isabelle Allende portray these events in the book?

2) "I can only say this to the workers: I will not resign," he declared. "With my life I will pay for defending the principles dear to our nation. I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this gray and bitter moment where betrayal threatens to impose itself. Continue knowing, all of you, that much sooner than later, the great avenues will open through which will pass free men in order to construct a better society. These are my last words having the certainty that this sacrifice has not been in vain."  This was Allende’s last words heard over Chilean Radio.  What do you think this quote means and what was he trying to say? Compare and contrast how these historical sources portray this event with how The House of the Spirits portrays this event.

3) In your own words describe the events following the coup and why you think they happened.  Include five major events.

Part 2: Author's Context

Source C: Allende's musings (homework)

1. "What is true?"
Paraphrase Allende's definitions of good fiction. Respond with your own personal reflection on why we read literature.

2. "Childhood rebellion"
When did Allende start writing? List several reasons she gives for waiting so long to begin. Explain how these and other gender restrictions that she describes in this article remind you of the restrictions faced by characters in the novel.

3. "Why I write"
Compare Allende's motives for writing and feelings about her craft with Rosa and her embroidery, Clara and her notebooks, Blanca and her creches, and Alba and her family history.

Note--I have taken out source D because of time restraints.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Welcome back to school!

Hello students! I'm very excited about all the great books we're going to read together, and all the interesting ideas we'll encounter along the way. 

Your first assignment is to answer the following questions, sending them in an email to me. Follow these directions carefully.

The subject of the email should be your full name and your class. If you have both a Chinese and English name, write the one you want me to call you first, and your other name second. Here is an example of what a subject should look like: Sofia (Shu Fay) Poulsen, 10A.

Answer these questions in the body of your email:

Contact information:

1. Write the email address where I can contact you.

2. Write your parents' full names, their email addresses, and phone numbers where I can contact each of them.

Now I want to check that you can find your way around my blog.

3. On the bottom of this page, you'll see a list that says "Classroom documents." Open the document titled "Rules and Procedures". What is the difference in my late policy for daily assignments verses major assignments? 

4. What consequence will you receive if you cheat in my class?

5. Open the document "Sourcebook guidelines." How should you mark homework assignments in your sourcebook so that I can easily find them?

6. Go down to the bottom of the blog, and look at the Assignment Calendar. If you click on the blue "next" arrow, you will see September's assignments. Each class's due dates are written in a different color. What color code did I give your class?

7. From the assignment calendar, what is the date of your first test, and what will the general topic of the test be?

Send the answers to these 7 questions (check that you got the subject right, or I'll take points off!) to my email address: ruth.andronica@gmail.com. This email is due September 3.

Summer Reading

AP English 12 Students,

Your summer reading is the following novels:

The House of the Spirits
The Kitchen God's Wife

Please come to school ready for a reading test on these two novels. Looking forward to meeting you all!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sophomore End of Year Survey

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Great Gatsby and Materialism: The Story of Stuff

How does this film address the issue of money and happiness from a new angle?

What other consequences does trying to find happiness in "stuff" have on our world?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Allusions in Toni Morrison's Beloved

Homework for Monday:

1. Research the following list. Sum up each character or topic in one or two sentences.


  • Jocasta
  • Aphrodite
  • River Styx
  • River Jordan
  • Washing feet
  • Four horsemen
  • Verse quoted at beginning of novel
2. For each of the above topics, find a quote in the novel that you think might refer to it. 

3. For each quote, write a few sentences answering the following questions:
  • What part of the earlier text is referenced? How is the earlier story re-imagined and put to new uses
  • What effect does each allusion have? 
  • How do the allusions as a whole influence the theme or characterization?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Great Gatsby Connection: Does Money Buy Happiness?

Tenth graders,

As you watch, please summarize the main points of the talk in bullet-point format.

After we finish discussing the points of the article, please write a reflection.

1. What is your personal experience with the ideas presented here? What are your opinions?

2. How do these ideas compare or contrast with the ideas of money and happiness presented in The Great Gatsby?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Beloved Article

Hello Seniors,

Here is the article that is your homework.

Tracing Rape: The Trauma of Slavery in Toni Morrison's Beloved

1. Summarize the argument of the article--the main idea and supporting reasons--in bullet point format.

2. Choose 5 key quotes from this article and copy them into your source book. Respond to each quote with 3-4 sentences of analysis and evaluation. To what extent to you agree with the author?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spirit Week and Inclusiveness

Halloween Costumes: Racism for Sale

Cross Dressing as Mockery 

In your sourcebooks, I'd like you to sum up 3 main points from each article. Then respond with your own opinions in paragraph form. You don't have to agree with the articles, but I do want you to consider their point of view.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Great Poetry Projects!

Culminating project #2 for almost six full weeks of analyzing poetry.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

SAT prompts

The SAT includes a 25 minute essay.

Here are last year's prompts.

We are going to use these for persuasive writing practice.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Persuasion Link

10th Graders,

Here's a great real-world example of understanding your audience's values and framing your argument to appeal to those values:

Please read this article and sum up the main points in your sourcebook. 

Then give your own example (not the ones in the article) of a pro-environmental message that would be likely to appeal to conservatives, and a pro-environmental message that would be likely to appeal to liberals.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winter Break Homework

Senior AP students,

Your winter break homework is to read The Awakening and be ready for a reading test on it when you get back.

Second, you need to do the practice exam I gave you in one sitting, in the mandated time constraints:

  • 1 hour: multiple choice
  • 15 min break
  • 2 hours: Write all 3 essays.

The practice exam will only be counted for a completion grade: whether you did it or not. We will go over it in class and look at various example essays, then self-evaluate. You will not receive a grade based on your performance because the purpose of this assignment is for you to get an idea of how the 3 hour time limit feels, so that you can learn to pace yourself.

Besides the one afternoon that will be taken up by that 3 hour block, I hope you have a relaxing and restful break!


Mrs. Poulsen