Y13: 22 January 2014

To begin preparing for the oral commentary, please re-read Shaw’s Arms and the Man, and the poetry of Langston Hughes. As you re-read, make notes on the literary techniques used by Shaw and Hughes to create particular effects. Please complete this work by next Wednesday, January 29th.

Y12 HL: Epic Similes 23 Sept 2013

Write another well-constructed body paragraph responding to this question: “What is the effect of Homer’s use of epic similes in The Odyssey?” Obviously in a single paragraph you will only be able to discuss one of the effects of Homer’s epic similes. Due: published on the blog by Wednesday night, the 25th.

Y12 HL, Second Blog Post 13 Sept 2013

Over the weekend, write one well-developed paragraph responding to this prompt:

What details in Books I-VIII of The Odyssey suggest that the Greek gods represent psychological forces of various kinds?

Y12 HL, First Blog Post

Please write one paragraph of an essay that responds to this question:

In Books I-IV of The Odyssey, how does Homer show us that Telemakhos is changing from a boy to a man?

You may discover three or four ways in which Homer does this; I want you to write about only one of them. For example, you may find that Homer uses the motif of green cheese: every time Telemakhos shows signs of maturity, green cheese is mentioned. In your single paragraph, focus on just the one method that you choose to write about; do not write an entire essay in which you analyse all the ways in which Homer indicates that Telemakhos is growing up.

Your evidence must consist of details from the text.

Due: Monday. I will give you tomorrow’s lesson to work on it.

Submit your paragraph as a post on this blog; I have emailed your login credentials to you.

Y12->13, and Y11->12 HL, Summer Holiday 2013

1. Read daily—a total of 200 pages per week in books of the highest quality you can manage while still reading one page per minute. Slower than that means the book is too difficult: put it down and read something else. You need to read a) to absorb what written English looks like: spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.; b) to gain invaluable background knowledge, one of the most important factors in school success; and c) to expand your literary background, so that you recognise things when you read, instead of missing them. For book suggestions, check out my Independent Reading page, here: If you need further help, email me.

2. Spend 30-60 minutes each week on This will help to build up your vocabulary with words that don’t normally appear in casual reading, but that you will need in the last years of high school and at university. Two 15-minute sessions, or three 10-20 minute sessions each week will do the job.

Y12: Orwell


UPDATE 2 May: Please add

“Politics and the English Language”, pp. 355-66, 11 pages

to be read LAST.

Y12 Spring Break

1. Post your personal response to The Joy Luck Club on this blog.
2. Complete the Practice Body Paragraph based on Joy Luck Club and email it to Mr. MacKnight before the end of the holiday.
3. Work on your Written Assignment.

Y12 Reading Schedule: Joy Luck Club

By the end of the lesson on days when we have class, or by the end of the afternoon on other days, you should have read up to and including the page number that is indicated for each date.

There will be quizzes to check on your reading. In your first time through the novel I expect you to know who the characters are and what happens.

Y13 Reading Schedule: Beloved

By the end of the lesson on days when we have class, or by the end of the afternoon on other days, you should have read up to and including the page number that is indicated for each date.

There will be quizzes to check on your reading. In your first time through the novel I expect you to know who the characters are and what happens.

Reading Schedule: To the Lighthouse

By the end of the lesson on days when we have class, or by the end of the afternoon on other days, you should have read up to and including the page number that is indicated for each date.

There will be quizzes to check on your reading. In your first time through the novel I expect you to know who the characters are and what happens.

Y13 Chinese New Year Holiday

Revise Keats, Hamlet, and Tess in preparation for the IOCs on February 23rd.

Y12 Chinese New Year Holiday

Re-read Antigone and Ghosts, focusing especially on how the plays are written and constructed. How does each playwright use the stage? build suspense? reveal or withhold information? create irony? etc. Venus and Michelle only: in addition to the above, read The Odyssey and come back to school with questions for me. (I am also happy to answer questions by email during the holiday.)

Y13 Mock Exams (Jan 28 to Feb 5)

You will write two exams for English, Paper 1 and Paper 2.

  • Paper 1 is a commentary on a text you have not read before. You may choose either the prose passage or the poem, but as always I strongly recommend that you choose the poem.
  • Paper 2 in May will examine you on the Part 3 novels. However, as we have just begun reading our first Part 3 novel, the mock exam Paper 2 will allow you to practice using Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Part 2) and Heart of Darkness (Part 3). You will have three questions to choose from in the section for “Novel and Short Stories”. Choosing ONE of those three questions, you will write an essay in which you compare and contrast some aspect of Tess and Heart of Darkness. This will also give you a chance to revise Tess in preparation for your Individual Oral Commentaries on February 23rd. In advance of the mocks we will talk about how to write a comparison/contrast essay under timed conditions.

Y12: Christmas Holiday

Download the critical essays about Antigone that I have put in a Dropbox folder and in a DCSZ eLocker (check your email for details on these). Read at least three of the essays thoroughly, and write a blog post about what you have learned from them. Possibilities: a) You learned something about Antigone; b) You learned something about how to write and format a literary essay; c) You learned something about deep and detailed analysis. In your blog post, give examples from the essays to show what you mean.

Y13: Christmas Holiday

Over the Christmas holiday you must re-read Tess and complete your sections of the TessNotes wiki I have set up for you, here:

Y13: Reading Schedule for Tess of the d’Urbervilles

On each date given you should arrive for class having completed reading the corresponding chapter, and ready to ask questions based on your notes for that chapter.

Y13: Golden Week, Oct 2012

1. Read A.C. Bradley’s essay, “What Actually Happens in the Play” (pp. 169-175 in your copy of the play).
2. Post a response to Hamlet as a whole. You may focus on the play, on the video, and/or on some issue raised for you by the Bradley essay. Go beyond the level of plot, or of writing about the characters as if they were real people. Instead, focus on how the play is written and performed, and the effects that result.

Wed, April 11

Read and take notes on Barry Wood, “Thoreau’s Narrative Art in ‘Civil Disobedience'”, pp. 556-64.

Mon, April 9 / 2012

1. First, write a personal response to ‘Civil Disobedience’, on the blog. Due before class on Tuesday.
2. Second, read and take notes on Richard Drinnon, ‘Thoreau’s Politics of the Upright Man’ (pp. 544-56). Due before class on Wednesday. Come to class prepared to ask questions about this essay.

Spring Break: ‘Civil Disobedience’

1. Read Emerson’s essay, ‘Thoreau’, pp. 395-409, and complete the ‘reading guide’ that you were given.
2. Read ‘Civil Disobedience’, pp. 227-46, and complete the sheets asking you to express the main idea of each paragraph in one sentence.

Feb/March 2012: Reading Schedule for The Odyssey

Chinese New Year Holiday

1. Part 1: Written Assignment

Complete either a rough first draft or a detailed outline (including all your assertions and the evidence in the text that you will use to support them) of your Part 1 Written Assignment.

2. Reading Schedule for Joy Luck Club

pp. 17-83 by Monday, January 16
pp. 84-144 by Thursday, January 19
pp. 145-209 by Wednesday, January 25
pp. 210-288 by Monday, January 30

Write one blog post for each section (‘Feathers From a Thousand Li Away’, ‘The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates’, ‘American Translation’, ‘Queen Mother of the Western Skies’). Include a brief comment about each of the four stories in each section.

December: Interactive Orals & Reflective Statements

  • On the same day following each Interactive Oral, all students must write RSs in response and post them on this blog.
  • The RS must be 300-400 words in length. There is a penalty for writing less than 300 words, or more than 400.
  • The guiding question for each RS is the same: “How was your understanding of cultural and contextual considerations of the work developed through the interactive oral?”
  • The guiding question must be written at the top of the reflection; the title and the author of the work used must also be clearly stated.
  • The RS will be assessed along with the final Written Assignment (WA) using Criterion A. I.e., 3 of the 20 possible marks for the WA depend on your Reflective Statement.

November: Confucius, The Analects

Reading schedule for Confucius, The Analects:
For Tuesday, Nov 1: Books 1 & 2
For Wednesday, Nov 2: Books 3-5
For Thursday, Nov 3: Books 6-8
For Friday, Nov 4: Books 9 & 10
For Saturday, Nov 5: Books 11 & 12
For Sunday, Nov 6: Books 13 & 14
For Monday, Nov 7: Books 15 & 16
For Tuesday, Nov 8: Books 17-20

Blog posts for Analects:
No later than Sunday, Nov 6: reflection on Book 1, ¶2 (1.2)—filial piety, civil disorder, etc.
No later than Wednesday, Nov 9: personal response to the The Analects as a whole.

October 13

Which sins or crimes do you think are the least serious, and which are the most serious? Create your own hierarchy of sins, with all the sins listed in order from least serious to most serious, and explain the logic behind your hierarchy: on what basis have you made these judgments? Post your hierarchy on the blog no later than Sunday, October 16.

October 11-27

Reading schedule for Dante’s Inferno.

At the beginning of the day on each date given, you should have finished reading the corresponding chapters.

Date Canto
Oct 11 3
Oct 12 5
Oct 13 7
Oct 14 9
Oct 15 11
Oct 16 13
Oct 17 15
Oct 18 17
Oct 19 19
Oct 20 21
Oct 21 23
Oct 22 25
Oct 23 27
Oct 24 29
Oct 25 31
Oct 26 33
Oct 27 34 (end)


August 25

Third post: What did you learn about poetry this week?

August 23

First two blog posts:
1) Describe yourself as a reader.
2) Describe yourself as a writer.

August 2011

Welcome to IB English A Lit! Major assignments will be posted here, with the most recent ones at the top.


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