February 28

Writing Workshops Continue

After a very good round of drafts, we are moving right along with our Peer Reviews and Revisions for next week’s Final Hamlet Essay.

Today – Peer Review Day

The peer review should serve two purposes:

  1. To help the writer of the essay you are reviewing to see how another student reads and understands their writing.
  2. To help you take what we are discussing and looking at back to be used in revising your own essay.

In Turnitin you have been assigned a fellow student essay to read and answer questions about. Be sure that you are being very thoughtful and considerate about your responses. There are minimum word counts on each question. You do not need to worry about these word counts, other than to use them as a guide to how much you should be saying in your responses. The more thought and information you provide in your responses the more help you will be to the writer.

After you have reviewed the essay you have been assigned and any comment I posted on your original essay draft you will be ready to begin the revision stage of the writing process for this assignment. Here are some important things to remember about revision.

Revision = big changes to the draft. This is not where you simply fix errors (that is proofreading and done as the final stage prior to publishing). Revision is when you take out chunks, rearrange information, or possibly even change the organizational structure of your paper. What worked well in the first draft that you can keep, and what didn’t work well or meet the needs of the assignment that you need to cut or change? Your revised essay will most likely not look or read very much like your draft did. Revision is improving, changing, adjusting, not simply correcting errors.

Remember all Final drafts are due turned in through Turnitin by the end of your class period on Monday, March 5th, whether you are at school or not.

February 22

Proofreading Your Draft

So, all week you have been participating in Writing Workshops to complete the first full draft of your Hamlet essay. We have had mini-lessons over what should be included in your introductions, how your body paragraphs need to be developed, and finally on what your conclusion paragraph should accomplish. Today your entire class time should be devoted to doing a proofreading activity and submitting your essay through Turnitin.

Normally, you think of proofreading as the next to last step in the writing process and you look for errors in your writing. Errors such as grammar issues, punctuation, or spelling. That is not what we are proofreading for today. Today you need to look at the structure of your essay. There are four areas that you need to check (or proofread) prior to turning your essay in by the end of class today.

  1. Have you addressed the prompt, in this case, the purpose of the essay?
    1. Have you explained how using the film adaptation of Hamlet either reinforced or contradicted your original fever chart thesis?
  2. Is your introduction complete?
    1. Have you used Catchy language ( Hook) to begin your essay?
    2. Have you listed the name and author of both the play and the movie being discussed?
    3. Have you clearly made a declarative statement about how viewing the film either supported or changed your original thesis?
  3. Is the body of your essay written in well-developed paragraphs?
    1. Does each paragraph deal with only one topic or specific supporting detail?
    2. Do you have a topic sentence, which supports your claim? to begin each body paragraph?
    3. Does each sentence support those main points with examples, explanations,(this is where quotes go!)?
    4. Have you explained how the point and evidence relate to your thesis?
    5. Is each paragraph developed to provide enough content for my essay?
  4. Is your conclusion complete?
    1. Does this final paragraph include:
      1. a look back on the purpose of the essay
      2. an allusion to the pattern used in the introductory paragraph,- a restatement of key points
      3. a restatement of the thesis statement, using some of the original language or language that “echoes” the original language. (The restatement, however, must not be a duplicate thesis statement.)
      4. a summary of the three to five main points from the body of the paper.
      5. a final statement that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end (This final statement may be a “call to action” or “so what” statement in a persuasive paper.)

This is the exact criteria that I will be using to score your draft. I will add additional comments to your Turnitin file that will be helpful in your revision process, but your draft grade will only be concerned with these specific elements as they are what we have covered and work on in class each day this week.

Writing Workshop weeks are my favorite weeks of the year. I am excited to read your work and help you grow as writers. After you have assured that all these items are contained in your draft, please submit it through Turnitin for grading. Have a great weekend.

One last note, remember that if you missed school this week and do not turn your essay in by the end of class today,  you risk the possibility of me not getting my comments completed prior to the Peer Review process on Wednesday of next week.

February 13

Hamlet Essay Assignment Explaination

After doing the class reading theater of Hamlet by William Shakespeare, you went back and did a close reading of the text to produce your Hamlet Fever Charts. The character and trait you selected for your fever chart directed your close reading to enable you to select an introduction or thesis for your fever chart. Next, we watched the 1990 film adaptation of Hamlet starring Mel Gibson, directed by Franco Zeffirelli.

Using your (purple sheets) that you collected your original data on for your fever chart assignments, the notes you took during viewing the movie, and any other research you may have done, you will now write a persuasive essay in which you explain how using the film adaptation either reinforced or contradicted your original thesis.  This is your assignment sheet or instructions for that essay assignment:


1.Developing your claim about the evolution of a specific character’s state of mind throughout the progress of the play – specifically, as you supported or readjusted that claim based on additional research (the film adaptation, etc.) 

2.Taking a piece of writing from the pre-writing stage through the revised, proofread, and published version.              

Description:   Min. of 3 pages (for English 12) or Min. of 5 pages (for AP Literature); typed, double-spaced; MLA format turned in through Turnitin

First Draft (Stage 2) Due: February 23

Peer Review Due: February 28

Final Draft Due: March 5

Reflection Due: March 9


This assignment involves looking at the original claim you used to develop your Fever Chart, doing additional research such as using details from the film adaptation, and or any additional research you need to verify or modify your original claim.  In the course of your essay, you must bring in a comparison with your original ideas and the resources you used for further understanding. Keep in mind that you are bringing in this secondary work because doing so enables you to address the “issue” raised for you by your primary work, Hamlet.

Do not simply repeat things said in class or on your Fever Chart. Also, your main claim should not be simply “There are many similarities and differences between these two works” or “There are many similarities between these two works, but also many differences” or “There are many differences between these two works, but also many similarities.” Again, your main claim or thesis should be your response to a how the movie adaptation or other pieces of research support or modify your understanding of the particular evolution of the character you selected and the trait you measured.

Criteria for Evaluation:

A holistic rubric will be used for this writing assignment.

100-90 A: Overall, you respond well to the assignment.

  • Your main claim is identifiable and relevant. It appears early and clearly.
  • You support your claim in a well-detailed, well-organized fashion, focusing on specific details.
  • You have used at a minimum of 3 relevant quotes, paraphrased, or summarized details from the text in which you have properly cited. (In-text or Parenthetical Citations)
  • The essay is readable. MLA, Grammar, and spelling are correct.

AP papers must include a minimum of 5 relevant quotes, paraphrased, or summarized details from the text in which you have properly cited. (In-text or Parenthetical Citations)Superior papers are specific in their references, cogent in their definitions, and free of plot summary that is not relevant to the question. These papers clearly demonstrate an understanding of the primary text and recognize the complexity presented in the film adaptation. The essays correctly identify two tones or sides of the author’s attitude toward the subject in a well-written thesis and deal specifically with narrative techniques such as point of view, syntax, diction, detail, and organization. These papers use appropriate choices for quotation or reference and select an appropriate number of choices from throughout the passage. Although they may be flawed, the papers, nevertheless, display consistent control over the elements of effective writing and reveal the students’ ability to read with perception and to express ideas with clarity and skill. These would represent AP work with a score of an 8 or 9 level.

89-80 B: For the most part, you respond well to the assigned task.

Your main claim and primary work are clear early on, and the main claim is relatively well-supported, but not quite as well as it could have been. While your essay is fairly well-organized, focusing on a specific element, there are times when further analysis is necessary. You do bring in your research in an effort to help develop your argument about the development of your original thesis. You have used a minimum of 3 relevant quotes, paraphrased, or summarized details from the text, but may have made errors in the MLA citation format. The essay is largely readable. MLA, Grammar, and spelling are mostly correct, but there may be some issues.

These AP papers are less thorough, less perceptive or less specific than 9-8 papers. These essays are well-written but with less maturity and control than the top papers. They demonstrate the writer’s ability to analyze a literary work, but they reveal a more limited understanding than do the papers in the 9-8 range. Generally, 6 essays present a less sophisticated analysis and less consistent command of the elements of effective writing than essays scored 7.

79-70 C: You respond to the assigned task, but not quite as well as you might have.

Your main claim and primary work are reasonably clear early on, but the main claim could be better supported. Perhaps you don’t refer enough to specific details. Perhaps you bring in your research in a way that seems arbitrary rather than genuinely helpful for the development of your argument about your Fever Chart claim. There might be a  too much plot summary, as distinct from your own analysis. Your organization is fairly easy to follow, though at times you stray into subjects other than your supposed focus. The essay is largely readable. Usually, your MLA, grammar, and spelling are correct, but there are multiple errors.

Superficiality characterizes these AP papers with a score of 5. Discussion of meaning may be pedestrian, mechanical, or inadequately related to the chosen details. Typically, these essays reveal simplistic thinking and/or immature writing. They usually demonstrate inconsistent control over the elements of composition and are not as well conceived, organized, or developed as the upper-half papers. On the other hand, the writing is sufficient to convey the writer’s ideas.

69 – 60 D: You have made a completed attempt. You don’t seem to address the actual assignment. You have ideas, but your observations don’t seem to the point, and perhaps aren’t clear enough. Perhaps you don’t clearly distinguish between your original claim and your research results, so readers have trouble deciding which is which. Perhaps you don’t bring in enough details, and/or perhaps the details you do provide aren’t clearly relevant to a main claim that addresses the assignment. Perhaps your main claim merely notes that in general, the texts are similar and/or different. Maybe your main claim is so obvious that almost no reader of your main work would disagree with it. An essay that is mostly plot summary, fairly hard to understand, marred by several mechanical errors, and/or hardly long enough, will get no higher rating than this.

The discussion in these AP papers is likely to be unpersuasive, perfunctory, underdeveloped or misguided. The meaning they deduce may be inaccurate or insubstantial and not clearly related to the question. Part of the question may be omitted altogether. The writing may convey the writer’s ideas, but it reveals weak control over such elements as diction, organization, syntax or grammar. Typically, these essays contain significant misinterpretations of the question or the work they discuss; they may also contain little, if any, supporting evidence, and practice paraphrase and plot summary at the expense of analysis.

Below: the essay is very hard to understand, perhaps because there are many errors in grammar and/or spelling. The organization is also a chore to figure out. A reader would have great trouble determining why your statements appear in this particular order.

These AP papers compound the weakness of essays in the 4-3 range and are frequently unacceptably brief. They are poorly written on several counts, including many distracting errors in grammar and mechanics. Although the writer may have made some effort to answer the question, the views presented have little clarity or coherence.

Helpful Basics:

These simple steps will guide you through the essay writing process:

Basic Elements of An Essay

1.  Introduction:

– Catchy language ( Hook)

– Reason/ purpose – Answering the Essay Question:

An introduction should answer three questions
1. What am I talking about in this paper?
By answering this question you let the reader know what the subject of the paper is. For example, if your paper were about a particular book, your answer to this question would give the title, author, and any other necessary information.
2. How am I going to talk about it?
This is where you let the reader know how your paper is organized. Here you very briefly introduce your main points or the evidence that will prove your point.
3. What am I going to prove in this paper?
This is the dreaded THESIS STATEMENT. The thesis is usually the last sentence in the first paragraph and it clearly states the argument or point you are making in your paper.

 – Preview of sections coming up.

2.  The Body of An Essay:

– Contains three or more sections, divided into paragraphs.

– Each paragraph deals with one topic.

–         First sentence contains the topic sentence, which supports the main idea of the essay.
–  The following sentences contain main points you’re making about that topic
–  Other sentences support those main points with examples, explanations, etc.  (Who, what, where, when, how, etc)

The Body consists of everything between your intro and conclusion and it is where you discuss your three main points. A good starting place is to envision that each point is a separate paragraph (or in a long paper each point might be a section). In each paragraph you:

· Introduce your point
· Explain your point
· Give supporting evidence (this is where quotes go!)
· Explain how the point and evidence relate to your thesis
The whole point of each paragraph is to relate your point to your thesis, but it helps to spell it out clearly in at least one sentence of the paragraph.

3.  Conclusion:

This paragraph should include the following:

– a look back on the purpose of the essay

– a look back on the purpose of the essay

  1. an allusion to the pattern used in the introductory paragraph,

-restatement of key points

  1. a restatement of the thesis statement, using some of the original language or language that “echoes” the original language. (The restatement, however, must not be a duplicate thesis statement.)

-Ending statement that makes you think

  1. a summary of the three main points from the body of the paper.
  2. a final statement that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end. (This final statement may be a “call to action” in an persuasive paper.)


More Advanced Helpful Moves:

Formulate an issue, a question, that takes at least three pages to address. You are more likely to come up with this if you focus on an element that puzzles you – something that isn’t clear to you right away. Indeed, you might spend part of the essay elaborating what is puzzling about this element, and then spend the rest of the essay on your explanation. Here are some types of issues: facts obscured or absent; the text’s theme(s); possible definitions of keywords in the text; symbols; patterns; evaluations; the text’s historical and cultural context, including works it builds on; the text’s genre; the text’s relevance to today; and causes and effects (think of the author’s actions as well as the characters’).

Think about: repetitions; strands (related words and examples); binaries (oppositions you might then try to complicate); anomalies (contradictions, things out of place, puzzles).

Consider the options that the author/director faced, including directions in which the author/director didn’t go and words the author/director didn’t choose.

Aim to complicate the view you take of the character and trait in the text.

Consider the text’s particular structure, style, and point of view.

To avoid long stretches of plot summary: assume your reader knows the basic plot and just needs to be reminded of key elements; begin each paragraph with an idea, not a plot point; refer to the author’s actions rather than the characters’ actions; define, and explore implications of, particular words.



Primary Claim: Hamlet moves from normal depression over the loss of his father to complete madness leading to the death of almost all of the major characters in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Issue/Question: Is Hamlet insane?

Answer: He is mourning the loss of his father but goes insane from his grief.

Secondary Work / Research: Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 production of Hamlet

Possible Introductory Paragraph:

In William Shakespeare’s tragic play Hamlet, the character of Hamlet is devoted to secrecy and deception first due to the grief he is experiencing over the death of his father and his mother’s quick marriage to his uncle.  Even before he is introduced to the idea of his father’s death being murder, his behavior seems odd to other people, including members of his family. Therefore, someone might argue that Hamlet is on the verge of insanity from the start of the play. Most likely, Hamlet’s royal family would have claimed his behavior as insane from the beginning of the play  [secondary work]. Nevertheless, by plunging us into Hamlet’s  personal history, Shakespeare indicates it is important for the reader to understand why Hamlet presents what may be a false feeling of insanity of himself [issue/question concerning primary work]. Although there are many possible reasons for his behavior, one apparent cause of it is the nature of the death of his father. To a significant extent, Hamlet’s deceitfulness suggests he has yet to overcome this loss. Therefore, the issue of Hamlet’s sanity and whether he is pretending or not needs to be carefully examined. Just as Hamlet’s little deceptions reflect in part his continued mourning of his father and his outrage at his mother and uncle [secondary work], so Hamlet’s major feats of trickery reflect in part his continue mourning of his father, coupled with his need to discouver the truth about his father’s death [primary work, which gets the greater emphasis, since it comes at the end of the sentence and the paragraph].

February 13

Outstanding Fever Charts 2018

These are some of the outstanding student work on close reading Hamlet and producing both physical and digital fever charts that I have received over the last week! One student reluctantly said, “I hate to admit this to you and don’t tell everyone else I said it, but I really learned more doing this assignment than anything else.”

Preszi Example 1 

Prezi Example 2