May 21, 2020 (Thursday)


What did you do?! Hopefully you wrote me some awful stuff and turned it in BEFORE CLASS THURSDAY.

On our Zoom Meeting I’ll attempt to read your bad poetry.

Period 1 (I read a couple of Period 4’s in here as well):

Period 4 class WITH ADDITIONAL POEMS! (Since some new ones came in between the classes):

ASSIGNMENT: Get caught up! Some of you are behind, so this is your opportunity to get caught up and a decent grade before the end of the semester. Those of you who are caught up, you are done!

Thank you all for a fantastic semester. I’m so sorry you got the “lite” version of the class. There was so, so much more I wanted to share with you. But I’m hoping you got enough. We did the best we could.

ALL of you have improved so much in your writing. Essays are stronger, tighter, more to the point, and far more packed with information than they used to be. The fluff is gone, and I’m so pleased. KEEP WRITING LIKE THIS! Do not let fluff enter back in, and you’ll write great stuff for the rest of your high school experience and on into college.

You guys have been great. I’m going to miss all of you immensely. Have awesome lives, and know that someday I will track you down again. (Take that how you will.)


May 19, 2020 (Tuesday)

Bad Poetry Contest!

For those of you juniors who are remaining, this will be our last week. Mr. Reynolds has given us permission to “take the foot off the gas,” but we’re already cruising downhill, so no problem.

Now that you’ve been exposed to good poetry, you’re far better adept to recognizing bad.

Think back to the 10 poems I had you look at a couple of weeks ago. I had you rate the poems and give me reasons why you rated them that way. Nearly all of you wrote down why you didn’t like this poem or that. Think back on what you did NOT like, and WHY you did not like those poems.

Your task this week will be to write a poem that you consider “BAD.”

In our Zoom meeting on Tuesday we’ll list first what makes a poem “good” then create a list opposite of that so you know what your goal is (so to speak).

“Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” This classic book series and movie mentions the worst poet in the universe:

Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings[1] was a poet who wrote the worst poetry in the universe. In fact, her poetry is still considered to be the worst in the Galaxy, closely followed by that of the Azgoths of Kria and the Vogons, in that order.

She lived at 37 Wasp Villas, Greenbridge, Essex, GB10 1LL.[2]

Here is an excerpt of her poetry:

The dead swans lay in the stagnant pool.
They lay. They rotted. They turned
Around occasionally.
Bits of flesh dropped off them from
Time to time.:And sank into the pool’s mire.
They also smelt a great deal.

Bad poetry=essentially makes you say, “Why did I read this?!”
So specifically in this poem, what makes it “bad”?

Next, here’s a clip from the movie of Vogons reading their poetry to a captured earthling and his friend:

Here’s excerpt from the book:

“Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning” is a poem by Grunthos the Flatulent, a Poet Master of the Azgoths of Kria.

                During a reading of the poem, four audience members died of internal hemorrhaging and the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos was reported to have been “disappointed” by the poem’s reception. This poetic reading was the direct cause of Grunthos’ own large intestine leaping up through his body and throttling his brain.


Putty. Putty. Putty.
Green Putty – Grutty Peen.
Grarmpitutty – Morning!
Pridsummer – Grorning Utty!
Discovery….. Oh.
Putty?….. Armpit?
Armpit….. Putty.
Not even a particularly
Nice shade of green.
As I lick my armpit and shall agree,
That this putty is very well green.

And this:

“Oh freddled gruntbuggly,
Thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits
On a lurgid bee.
Groop, I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes
And hooptiously drangle me
With crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon,
See if I don’t!”

– Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, HGTTG

So what in the poems above make them “bad”?


For THURSDAY I want you to write a bad poem. I need it turned in by Thursday MORNING at the latest, because on our Zoom Meeting on Thursday I will attempt to read your poem to the class in my best teacher voice. (We can also do them anonymously then let you guess who wrote what.)

I want your poem to be at least 6 lines, but probably more. You can do anything you want, just make it “bad” in some way.

THIS WILL BE OUR LAST ASSIGNMENT! So make it AWESOME! Some of you are trying to get caught up still, so this “ending” will allow those who are behind to get caught up over the next couple of weeks, and those who are caught up to just ease into summer starting on Friday.

Sometimes a “bad” poem has an odd subject matter. Consider these lines, which someone cleverly turned into an entire poem:

May 18, 2020 (Monday)

Bad Poetry Week!

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we’ll have a Zoom Meeting to discuss what constitutes “bad poetry,” we’ll look at a few examples, then set up the parameters for your Bad Poetry submission. Yes, you’ll write some bad poetry, turn them in by Thursday, and I’ll compile them for everyone to enjoy!

Check in TUESDAY, tomorrow, for all the details.

In the meantime, here’s this from “AdventureTime”. My kids made me watch an episode because it had “poetry” in it, and I realized that the Ice King actually read something we could all use–poetry on toilet paper.

May 14, 2020 (Thursday)

EXAM IS OVERRRR!!!! And “What I learned this year” collaborative project

I’m getting back reports that the exam was “not that bad” and the reading passage was “probably the best I’ve read” and that “I pretty much knew what to do” so that is GREAT NEWS!

Zoom Meeting today! And you can spend a few minutes sharing reactions to the exam. (By the way, I’ll be sent all of your essays later.)

We lose our seniors tomorrow–Friday is their last day–so today I wanted to do a collaborative writing project. PLEASE be here because I want everyone’s responses for this. It’ll be more clear when we do it.

Collectively we reflected on what we would have told our past selves about this semester, and what we’ve learned. WATCH this recording to see what we came up with in Period 1: (I’m going to record and post Period 4 as well.)


Here’s PERIOD 4’s discussion:


HOMEWORK: Nothing until next week, when those who remain will learn about Vogon poetry. Until then, get caught up in your other classes and have a marvelous weekend.

NEXT ZOOM MEETING: Tuesday, May 19.

May 12, 2020 (Wednesday)


For those of you taking the exam, good luck! You’ve worked hard and YOU CAN DO THIS! It’s only one hour, too, so nail that essay!

For those of you not taking it, send all your positive thoughts to those undertaking this formidable challenge and be proud of them!

Happy AP Lit Exam Day! May the prompts be ever in your favor ...

Zoom Meeting THURSDAY–our last one with our seniors. And now, a little levity:


Doing what I can . . .

May 11-12, 2020 (Monday-Tuesday)

Prepping for the AP Exam on WEDNESDAY

Today you should receive your invitation to take the exam. I have no idea at what time, though. Keep checking in and let me know when you get your invite. CHECK THE EMAIL THAT YOU HAVE ASSOCIATED WITH COLLEGE BOARD. For at least half of you, it is NOT your school email, but a private email address.

Emails were sent out about 10:20 am Monday–you SHOULD have your invitation to take the exam by now! If you don’t see it, check your spam box, check your personal emails, check everything. Then let me know if you still don’t see it. (And if you don’t want to take the exam, just ignore it.)

I’m not giving you any homework or practice, because if you don’t know how to answer the prose question by now, nothing we try to cram right now will help. Just BREATHE, RELAX, get REST, and go into the exam on Wednesday ready and rested!

I hope you’ve tried the link I sent you to make sure you can get everything working properly with your technology:

I emailed each of you your AP ID to use in that demo link above. Check your school email for it and make sure you attempt that demo BEFORE Wednesday!

Another AP teacher made this graphics for everyone. Great reminders. FOLLOW ALL OF THIS!

1) This is a great way to break down your time:

Image may contain: text

2) START RESTING MONDAY! Get to bed at decent hour MONDAY, then again on TUESDAY. Eat DECENT food. Do not pig out on junk food. Set yourself up for success.

3) Remember, our test time is 2pm.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Get some rest before the exam. Not just one night before. Prepare your physical space. Communicate with family about testing, secure device, clean desk, gather handouts, pens, paper, etc. Prepare your mental space. Do some power poses before sitting down, take a couple of deep breaths, don't listen to music with words while testing.'

4) Get your CHEAT SHEET of literary devices that you created. Also print out the tone terms I gave you, just in case your question asks about tone. Also print out this below. YOU CAN HAVE THESE PAGES OF NOTES NEXT TO YOU! Gather any other “helps” and notes you want. Remember you won’t have a lot of time to sift through them, so I wouldn’t recommend more than these pages. They’ll be enough.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'WHAT do notice? (Insight, Claim) Shifts, Contrasts, Repetitions, Similarities, or anything else that that stands out HOW does the author communicate the message? (Evidence) Characterization Point of View Juxtaposition Dialogue Narrative Pace Paradox Setting Diction Symbolism Imagery Syntax Irony Selection of Detail Tone Figurative Language Point of View WHY is this important? (Analysis or Commentary) Answer the prompt, controlling or central idea, connect back to thesis'

5) Then WRITE! Keep watch on the TIME! Then be so incredibly glad it’s all over.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Celebrate the hard work you have done this year by writing your heart out and showing what you know. You've got this!'

HOMEWORK: Nothing new. Just get yourself ready for the exam. Look at the comments I’ve made on your essays about what you should change or make sure what you should do.

If you’re not taking the exam, send positive, happy thoughts to your friends who are.

Tuesday’s Zoom Meeting will be going over last minute questions. There’s no more assignments until THURSDAY when we have our last Zoom meeting with our seniors. We’ll do a project all together during the Zoom meeting, so please come!

May 7-8; 11, 2020 (Thursday-Friday-Monday)

End of Poetry Week and Two Prose Prompts

Since Friday has been declared “Service Day” by the school, I’m presenting here the assignments I was going to give for over the weekend as preparation for the AP Lit Exam on Wednesday.

(I can’t believe that day has finally come. It’s felt like an eternity coming, yet I turn around and BAM! there it is. Time is so weird lately. Anyone else feel that?)

By now you seniors should also know that next Friday, May 15, is also your last day. And suddenly BAM! there it is.

I can’t keep up . . .

Zoom Meeting Thursday! We’ll go over the last five poems briefly. The analysis for those are due Friday before midnight (although most of you have already turned that in).

(Ok, WHY is the image of me with my hands in the air? Someday when all of this is over I’ll learn how to put up a thumbnail image instead.)

Last two AP Prose Prompts–Due Monday

I’m not going to give you any help on these–no background, insights . . . nothing. You’re doing this cold, just as you will on Wednesday.

First prompt is here (page 3) from Middlemarch. For this prompt, you do NOT have to write the full essay, but instead create a thorough outline, as we did earlier.

  • Set a timer for yourself–give yourself 45 minutes.
  • READ the prompt thoroughly. Make brief notes for yourself as to what you’re answering.
  • READ the passage (it leaks over to a second page).
  • Read it a SECOND time looking for ways to answer the prompt.
  • WRITE for me a clear introduction with a focused thesis sentence.
  • Do NOT allow any fluff in there! And don’t merely repeat the prompt, but ANSWER it in that first paragraph. Are you a “fluffer” who doesn’t answer the prompt but merely repeats it? I marked ALL of your essays and made notes on them, pointing out if you do. So if you haven’t read those comments to see what I’m flagging, we’ve all been wasting our time. NO FLUFF! GET TO THE POINT AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE!
  • Create an outline of what points you would make if you were to answer the prompt as an essay.

For the second prompt right here (page 3) Seraph on the Suwanee. I want you to answer the prompt fully as if it were the Exam.

  • Set a time for yourself–give yourself 45 minutes.
  • READ the prompt thoroughly. Make brief notes for yourself as to what you’re answering.
  • READ the passage.
  • READ it a SECOND time looking for ways to answer the prompt.
  • WRITE THE FULL ESSAY. Keep an eye on the time.
  • Do NOT allow any fluff in there!

Turn in these TWO PROMPT RESPONSES by MONDAY before midnight. We will have an OPTIONAL Zoom Meeting on MONDAY for those who intend to take the exam. I want to find out if you’ve received your invitation to take the exam, and address any questions you have about the two prompts.

We will have another Zoom Meeting on TUESDAY, the day before Exam, to go over last minute questions, give last minute advice, etc. for those taking the Exam on Wednesday.

Then we’ll have one LAST Zoom Meeting on Thursday, May 14 for everyone before we say farewell to our seniors.

As I write this draft, I have no idea what we’ll do that day. My plans for the “last” week have all been tossed again since the schedule was changed AGAIN. (Seriously, I can NOT keep up!)

Maybe I’ll just sob quietly while all of you watch me in uncomfortable and embarrassed silence, until you finally give up and discreetly leave the Zoom meeting until I’m all alone . . .

Spongebob Squarepants GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

EXTRA PROSE PRACTICE! Believe it or not, some people have asked for additional essays to practice with. (coughmikailacough) IF you want extra practice, here are some links to additional tests (usually on page 3 of the link). If you want me feed back on these, share them with me. NOT MANDATORY! Merely optional.

May 6, 2020 (Wednesday)

Poetry Week!

Continue working on reading and writing up about the 10 poems.

On Thursday we’ll have another Zoom Meeting and briefly discuss the last five poems in the pile.

The analysis assignment is due FRIDAY before midnight.

May 5, 2020 (Tuesday)

First 5 Poems!

First, CHECK YOUR EMAIL–did you get something on Monday from the College Board about how to take a practice exam?

  • If you did not, PLEASE let me know.
  • If you are not interested in taking the AP Exam a week from Wednesday, May 13, then just ignore it.
  • If you did get the email and plan to take the test next week, FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS that the College Board has sent. You need to figure out your technology, etc. This is all on you. Nothing we can do on our side.
  • IF you have bad internet connections and would like to take the exam in an empty classroom at the school, let me know ASAP!

Here’s a super helpful YouTube guide they just released Monday, describing all of the information you need to take the exam:

Second, in the past I told you that I’d let you know this week if I think you have a chance at passing the AP Exam or not. If you want my honest opinion, send me an email entitled, “Do you think I have a chance at passing the AP Lit Exam?” and I’ll email you my response.

You can still choose to take the test or not, but if you’re on the fence deciding, I will give you my feedback.

POETRY WEEK! Here’s the link to the poems again. Remember, we are NOT analyzing the first one (that was your Mother’s Day reminder) but the ones after it.

Today during our Zoom Meeting we’ll read through the FIRST FIVE POEMS and get your impressions on them briefly. Then on Thursday’s Zoom Meeting we’ll do the LAST FIVE POEMS and also get your impressions on those. I will try to record and post those meetings here on the website. (done)

ASSIGNMENT: Complete this handout to analyze the poems. This is not the in-depth analyses I was requiring before, but more of an exploratory analysis for you. What appeals to you and why? What doesn’t appeal and why? This analysis of the TEN POEMS will be due Friday, May 8.

May 4, 2020 (Monday)

Poetry Week!

First, Happy Star Wars Day.

Happy STAR WARS Day! From A NEW HOPE To SOLO, We Want To Know How ...

(If you don’t get it, we can no longer be friends.)

Second, WE HAVE A LAST DAY! Seniors, you are done Friday, May 22. Three short weeks, guys–you can do this!
Next, everyone else is done a week later, Friday, May 29. WOOT! Have all your work turned in and REJOICE!
BUT if you’re behind and need to caught up, you have a grace period of June 1-5 to get the last of your work done. Whatever you do NOT have finished by the end of the week, well, that’s it.
Time’s run out.

Now to this week–POETRY!

We need to do something a little different I think, and give your mind practice at analyzing something else besides prose prompts. I don’t want to teach exclusively to a random test, I want you to have exposure to more literature. We will resume prose prompts to have you ready for the test on Wednesday, May 13 (one week from Wednesday!), but let’s do something completely different this week. Brains function better when they’ve had a variety of work to do, and aren’t just focused on one kind ad nauseam.


I have here an eclectic selection of 10 poems I expect you to read.

I’m hoping that at least poem may appeal to you. I tried for a wide variety, the oldest is from Walt Whitman in the 1800s, the newest is one about cell phones published just a month or two ago.

Tomorrow, on TUESDAY, our Zoom Meeting will go over the ANALYSIS ASSIGNMENT that I will assign. For today (Monday) read through them, get a feel for them.

On Tuesday we’ll go over the first 5 poems together, then on Thursday the last 5.

(If you wish to get a jump on this assignment, here’s what I want you to do: Evaluate each of the 10 poems based on this simple handout. You’ll rate the poem, tell me what you like, dislike, and identify a literary device.)

The first one, called The Lanyard, by Billy Collins, is included only because I want to remind you that MOTHER’S DAY IS THIS SUNDAY! There. Can’t say you weren’t warned.

This is actually a funny poem. He’s the former US Poet Laureate, and we’ll discuss it on Tuesday, but listen to the author read it here:

So for tomorrow (Tuesday), read the poems. If you want, you can start analyzing them, but you can wait until Tuesday if you wish.

ZOOM MEETING on TUESDAY to discuss this analysis assignment. The analysis of all 10 poems will be due FRIDAY before midnight. On Tuesday we’ll go over the first five poems together, then on Thursday discuss the last five poems.