Tuesday, June 2, 2015

TOW #29- Letter to a future APELC Student

Dear Incoming APELC Students,

The must be a reason you've voluntarily chosen to take AP English in your junior year of high school. Some students take it to challenge themselves. Some students take it for college credit, or because it's necessary to their major. I took it because I wanted to improve my writing and I genuinely enjoyed writing essays. If it's one thing APELC teaches you, it's that pretty much all the techniques you've used previously to write an essay are wrong. APELC teaches you that your writing should not fit into a formulaic five paragraph intro-body-conclusion essay. This class pushes you and expands your writing beyond boundaries you hadn't realized existed. Improving your writing isn't the only thing this class does for you. You also learn how to think differently. You learn to approach problems in different ways, look at things from different perspectives, and analyze farther than you had before. One of the most interesting and basic things you realize in the very beginning of the course is that analysis of text is not only analyzing written words, but it spoken words and visuals. This class highlights all the things you've been doing for years, and gives it a name and purpose. I had never thought I analyzed visual texts, but we've all been finding rhetoric in advertisements without even knowing it. You learn throughout this course without realizing you're learning so much. However, this class is definitely a shock: you will not get the grades you want, at least at first, but the grades will come with time and hard work. Each marking period your grade will increase, which is just a numeric representation of all the hard work you've put into the curriculum. Most students finish with a B average, including myself, which is the first B I've gotten in my high school career. Strangely, I'm okay with it, happy even, because I've proved throughout the year to myself that this course is possible and that I've grown as a student. I'm pretty sure on the first day of the course Mr. Yost told us all to "Relax, it's just school." At first (as well as the first three marking periods) I tried hard to ignore this advice, but once you realize the grades are not determinants of your character as a student and are not representations of how hard you work then the class becomes enjoyable. Once I learned that very tough lesson, APELC became one of my favorite classes because I wasn't stressing out about it. Looking back at the year, the lessons I've learned are what stick with me, not my grades on my assignments. My advice to you, incoming APELC students, is to have fun in AP English, because after all, it is just school.


Shannon Trombley


Thursday, May 28, 2015

TOW #28 - Reflection

Throughout the year, I have seen growth within myself as a writer, and TOWs have helped me to develop this change. At the beginning of the year, my TOWs did not have the flow that they eventually developed. Without even reading my essays and just thinking about the way I wrote, it seemed that as time went on the words came more easily and my essays were written much more smoothly as one idea flowed into the next. I think that I mastered creating a strong thesis and proving said thesis in my TOWs. It became much easier to crank out a well written thesis with a claim, context, and consequence. However, there is always room for improvement. I should have varied the rhetorical devices that I referenced in each TOW; I did not really strive to learn new devices and incorporate them into my writing, but instead I just used the same 10 devices over and over. I believe that the TOWs helped us prepare for the exam because we were able to crank out ideas into well written sentences quickly. However, on the actual AP exam there is no 350 word short answer, it is simply a full analysis essay. This is where TOWs fall short: the length of the essay does not help us prepare for the AP exam. Overall, TOWs are a someone helpful tool because they teach a student to organize their ideas quickly and accurately, but not necessarily in the quantity necessary for the exam in May.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

TOW #27 - "Attitude" (Written text)

                On June 14th, 1983, Margaret Atwood delivered a commencement address to a graduating class of Victoria College. In her speech, she talks about her process of thinking about what to say in this speech. She talks about how she thought about it for awhile and was unsure about which route to take. She could either be very positive and sugar coat adulthood, where the flawless educational system will push them out of any troubles. However instead of portraying false information and giving false hope, she decided to be realistic and frank. As a writer, she expressed that it wasn't a wise career path to take as it is unreliable and risky. She states, "But sober reflection led me to the conclusion that this topic too was a washout; for, as you will soon discover, a liberal arts education doesn't exactly prepare you for life." She then went onto exposing the errors in the educational system and pointing out how unrealistic it is. She pointed out that many things that are taught in school are not true in the real world. Overall, most of her essay points out the negatives, yet realistic parts of adulthood. However, her pessimistic outlook has a point to her overall purpose. For example she states, "on the one hand, we ourselves live daily with the threat of annihilation. We're just a computer button and a few minutes away from it, and the gap between us and it is narrowing every day. On the other hand, the catastrophe the threatens us as a species, and most other species as well, is not unpredictable and uncontrollable, like the eruption of the volcano that destroyed Pompeii. If it occurs, we can die with the dubious satisfaction of knowing that the death of the world was a man-made and therefore preventable event, and that the failure to prevent it was a failure of human will". Atwood stresses the ability of looking at one thing with multiple eyes. We can then create more positive changes as our government runs on opinion of the people. Wthe use of humor and attention grabbers, she was able to not only hold the attention of her audience but deliver an empowering message.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

TOW #26 - "Apple's Newest Hit" (Written text)

In a recent article presented by Forbes, people are starting to get excited about the reveal of Apple's new wearable technology: a touchscreen watch. This has been an ongoing invention for at least half a year, so for it to be released soon is such amazing news. However, many people feel this new product could end up hurting Apple. Forbes addresses the watch as being too expensive causing many people to not buy it. While many people would disagree, we have to remember this did happen in the past. When Google came out with the Google Glass, it ended up being a bit of a failure. First, people thought it looked ridiculous raising many questions on how wearable technology ever became an attractive product. Secondly, the glass was pretty expensive starting close to a thousand dollars. In the end, Google ended up stopping sales because there was just no profit coming in, so it didn't make sense to continue manufacturing. If the same problem happens with Apple, it could really hurt their stocks and income. Think of all the money put into developing this product, if it fails, all of that goes to waste. However, many people would argue that Apple hasn't failed us yet. I mean every product they have come out with has caused chaos, huge lines, and lots of people spending lots of money. Therefore, I would have to disagree with Forbes and say that this product could end up helping Apple. If it does boom, the profit will be huge and stocks will go up. However, that has to be a risk Apple is willing to take because there is a chance that the whole plan could end up going sideways. Overall, the article does a great job in introducing the pros and cons of Apple's newest invention. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

TOW #25 - Alcoholism (Visual Text)

Alcoholism is a serious disease, and Rzecspospolita seeks to point out the horror hidden behind the drink in this ad through use of familiarity, illusions, contrast, and parallelism between the text and the image. The foundation utilizes familiarity to drive home the point that Alcoholism can affect anyone, even you, Average Joe. The person portrayed in the text looks like your average 35 year old man, who after a long day at the office (as his button up suggests), headed home or to the bar for a relaxing drink. This recognizable scene is supposed to make the reader think, "Hey, I do that." The foundation then uses an illusion to show the true horror inside a bottle of Vodka. With a clear liquid, you would normally be able to see the man's smiling face through the glass, but instead you see the same man's face screaming, as if being tortured or trapped inside the glass. The contrast the illusion sets up between the fun, light, happy man's atmosphere and the scary setting inside the bottle makes the reader think, "maybe this drink isn't all fun and games." Lastly, the parallelism between the words and illusion goes a long way in driving home the point that the reader may need help with their addiction. The text says, "Don't try to check [for disease] yourself," because you cannot see the monster trapped inside the glass like everyone else can. Had the man pulled the bottle away from his face, he wouldn't have seen anything wrong, unlike everyone else, who can see the screaming man. This makes the audience realize that they cannot see the disease, but other people might. The ad aims to help potential alcoholics not only realize they should reach out for help but almost scare them into doing it through familiarity, illusions, contrast, and parallelism.

Monday, March 16, 2015

TOW #24 - "Into the Wild" by John Krakauer IRB #2

"Into the Wild", the retelling of Christopher McCandless' adventures through the Alaskan and American wilderness by John Krakauer, is better names Into the Symbols because of its abundance in symbolism which ultimately provides a better characterization of McCandless as well as a more personal retelling of the plot. The prominent use od deserts is one of the main symbols utilized by Krakauer. The desert presents a challenge to McCandless, and his perseverance to conquer the grounds and complete his journey is exemplification of McCandless' hubris. Similar to the desert, the mountains not only give scenery to the story, it symbolizes another obstacle for McCandless to conquer. When recalling his youth, Krakauer utilizes the mountains to present a test for one's own capability and character. Another prominent symbol in the novel is the "Magic Bus", named after the song by The Who, is symbolic of his luck. He stumbles across the bus as shelter, which is extremely lucky, and then he passes away in the "Magic Bus," which is symbolic of the end of his good fortune. Lastly, the rivers in "Into the Wild" are the final challenge for McCandless to conquer, but unlike the mountain and deserts, he fails to end victorious from his face off with the rivers. It is symbolic of his lack of planning and ultimately his Achilles heel, because he cannot cross the river in summer and fails to survive. "Into the Wild" is the perfect retelling of Christopher McCandless' treck through the Alaskan and American wilderness by John Krakauer, who perfectly captures McCandless' personality and his tough journey through multiple symbols throughout the novel.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

TOW #23 - "On the Rainy River" by Tim O'Brien

After winning the National Book Award in 1979 for Going after Cacciato, Tim O'Brien followed the masterpiece with The Things They Carries, a book of his experiences in war that shows him as the protagonist. "On the Rainy River" is an excerpt from the novel. O'Brien utilizes the repetition, alliteration, figurative language, and prose in order to emphasize how simple the emotional horrors of war are. His repetition allows him to draw the focus onto specific aspects of war the prove its overall negative connotation. He speaks of "a crushing sorrow, sorrow like I had never known before" (O'Brien 1077). The repetition of sorrow draws the reader to hopefully focus on the bone crushing despair war brings. His alliteration allows for the same effect when he writes, "a sudden swell of helplessness" (O'Brien 1076). The use of these rhetorical devices allows for O'Brien to simply show the toll war has on an individuals emotions. He also uses similes to compare the feelings of war to a way the reader may have felt before, so they can begin to relate and understand how horrible these experiences were. He feels "as if I had toppled overboard" (O'Brien 1075). The reader may possibly have felt this way at some point in their life, and once they realize that O'Brien and the other soldiers feel like this all the time during war and possibly even after, they open the door to truly comprehend how horrible war and its effects are. Lastly, O'Brien structures his story into long paragraphs, which allows the reader to feel to continuous dragging of that O'Brien felt by his emotions. This detailed retelling of war, "On the Rainy River", that helps O'Brien tell his journey of despair is made possible by his use of repetition, alliteration, figurative language, and prose.