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Archive for the ‘[AP] Critical Prompts’ Category

This post contains feedback and grades for the following assignments:

  1. Your adversarial discussion before the AP exam (4/27—5/6)
  2. Your blog-based discussion of Brother Ali’s music (4/5—4/19)
  3. Your blog-based discussion of NHS (4/20—5/17)
  4. Your wiki-based multiple-choice explications (2/1—4/15)
  5. Your required pre-exam/midterm conference (2/1—5/11)

Note that the smallest amount of time given for any of these five assignments was ten days, and except for that adversarial, these were remarkably long-term, cumulative assessments.  Each one required planning, focus, and hard work.

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Click for the full strip.

Applications for the National Honor Society will be reviewed here at the high school over the next few days, with accepted students notified soon afterward.  Members become part of an organization that has existed since 1921, with its own consitution and National Council dedicated to recognizing excellence in these areas (definitions taken from the Glossary of Honor Society Terminology):

Scholarship — One of the core principles of the Honor Societies, used as a criterion for selection to assess levels of academic performance of a candidate; a cumulative standard of scholarship is defined by the local chapter as the performance indicator of this criterion. The National Constitution established the minimum standard for this criterion.

Leadership — A position of being in charge, guiding, or otherwise directing a group of individuals or an organization; a collective set of skills that can be taught to make one a leader; one of the core principles of the Honor Societies, reviewed for selection, skills for which are taught through chapter activities during the year.

Service — One of the core principles of the Honor Societies, namely referring to actions done for or on behalf of others without any compensation provided to the individual performing the actions. Each chapter is required to conduct a minimum of one chapter service project each year, per the national constitution.

Character — One of the essential criteria for the Honor Societies. NHS and NJHS refer to the definition of character provided by Character Counts!, namely a person of character demonstrates Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.  See also www.charactercounts.org.

But we are less interested in national definitions than practical realities.

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This next song has a little bit of cursing in it, too, but not in the service of a (potentially, forgivably) anti-American screed¹.  Instead, you have a narrative poem about stopping a male neighbor from beating a woman.  The cursing comes from the speaker’s rage and sense of what’s right; as a storytelling device, the language is both authentic and involving.  It may give us a way to enter the story and see how we might feel about the relationships in play.

Here are the lyrics for “Dorian.”  (I apologize for the quality of both the site and the quality of the lyrical transcription; if I had the time to transcribe these songs myself, I would.)  You can load a video that plays the song here — don’t shy away from clicking through to purchase the song and/or album, of course.

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The next Brother Ali song on your docket this week is “Forest Whitiker” (spelled as it is on the album, not as the actor spells it), from the album Shadows on the Sun.  YouTube has a copy of it up with links to iTunes and AmazonMP3, but there is no video; we’ll have to make do with sounds and writing, like the caveman did.

This is a very different from song from “Uncle Sam,” your first choice in this you-pick-em adversarial.  This is a celebration of self, built up (in some sense) against the prevailing ideas of what “beautiful” means.  Load the lyrics here¹.  Then consider some of the following ideas, before starting a conversation in the comments:

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Brother Ali

Brother Ali

 

We’re going to jump into what I’ve taken to calling your Critical Prompt Exercises — short posts showcasing atypical texts, ethical dilemmas, and whatever else I can come up with to engender conversation amongst you.  This first week (we should have five of these before the AP exam) will be different from the rest, in that you have a choice of which conversation to join.  No matter what you choose, and I’ll encourage you to choose more than one, you’ll be reading/listening to Brother Ali

The first song is the one most likely to land me in hot water, because it is somewhat incendiary — if you look at it with that intention, at least.  We could just as easily call it a rhetorical descendent of Malcolm X’s speeches on governmental failure and socio-spiritual inequities¹. 

We may not listen to this one in class, seeing as I am fond of my job, but I will provide you links here.  It is less the cursing that makes me hesitant — after studying Dustin Rowles², I’m not sure even N.W.A. could raise our eyebrows — than the tone.  I once spoke with a long-tenured colleague of mine about the poster of Malcolm X on the wall in my classroom, and he told me, “When I started here, that poster would have gotten you fired”; and, while I believe in fighting for the kind of free speech you need to hear, I don’t particularly enjoy parents and pitchforks. 

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