Thursday, May 25, 2017

Woodrow 11th Grade Summer Reading Explosaganza 2017!

IB English III

Howdy. It is with great fanfare and drum and the shofar that I present the summer reading assignment for IB English 3 for 2017. Two books--one to read over the summer and one to have ready for the fall semester:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Yes, the original. This book is an exceptionally simple read. It was, after all, written for children; however, there is a lot more going on. You know how Animal Farm is an allegory for the rise of Soviet socialism in Russia, and Harry Potter is an allegory for the global "War on Terror"? This novel is a detailed snapshot of politics in the late 19th century in America.

Yes, really. I'm dead serious. This will also give you a fairly reasonable idea of how we're going to look at not only the art of the writing but also the context of the novel.

Your version of this cover may vary, but you need to pick up the UNABRIDGED version. You do not need to pick up the version with Denslow's original illustrations, but it's pleasant to have.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

We will use this book as a framework for the exploration and explication of the novels and other readings for our IB Literature A class. The text is actually kind of interesting, if academic, so feel free to read ahead if you like. HtRLLaP is on quite a few short lists of books for successful college and IB students alike

There may be some incoming seniors and/or graduating seniors who may be willing to part with their copy if you are particularly persuasive, and some of them were really good about keeping notes in the margins....

Both of these books can be found online from and the like, but they can also be found at Half-Price Books and Lucky Dog Books locally.

Please note that students (ie, incoming IB English juniors at Woodrow Wilson) should possess both books and have the novel read by the start of the fall semester 2017-2018; students should further anticipate that there will be a diagnostic exam based on the material for the purpose of figuring out approximately your skill level and potential needs.

IB Film

  1. WATCH SOME MOVIES! Keep a journal on everything you watch. No, really, every movie. Not just the ones you go to an actual movie theater but also ones you might watch at home. If it's the first time you've seen that movie, journal it. Log the title, date, director, principal talent, and anything else that strikes you about the movie from a filmmaking point of view. While you're at it, review this short interview in terms of formatting your journal. (By the way, I will be doing the same thing, too, watching and writing about movies. We'll compare notes.)
    • up to 7 minutes of dialogue and action
    • needs to be formatted as a script, not as a short story
    • will be "pitched" by you to the whole class during the first week of school
    • subject matter to be determined by you, but it must fit within the parameters of the final IB Film project

Your script will be due the first day of the first week of school. Period. No exceptions, unless it is a REALLY good one, and even then I reserve the right to call shenanigans and say no.


Actually, a short series of assignments:

  1.  Please read this short interview about American Cinema and film criticism. This should give you a fairly straightforward account of the way we will view and comment upon film in our class. It will also give you a model for how to complete the reflections that will be required of you for this summer assignment. Pay close attention to the commentary--both what they care to observe and how they comment upon it.
  2. WATCH SOME MOVIES! You must watch a total of five (5) films over the summer. This part of the assignment is more enjoyable if you actually watch them with other people, perhaps your fellow film students or even <gasp!> your parental units. You will need to watch the following:
    • Film Noir from the 1940s - 50s;
    • Sci Fi classic from the 1930s - 60s;
    • Western;
    • a film by a foreign director such as: Pedro Almodovar, Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, Jean Paul Melville, Masaki Kobayashi, Werner Herzog, Akira Kurosawa, John Woo, or Francois Truffaut;
    • and another movie from the genre or era or country of your choice.
  3. Written Assignment: You will turn in a 3x5 reflection card for each film you watch, written within two days of seeing the film. 
    • Side A of this reflection card should include:
    1. Title and year of release.
    2. Director's name
    3. Principle actors' names
    4. Production company's name (e.g.Warner Bros., Toho, Universal, etc.)
    5. Country of origin
    •  Side B (the lined side) is where you BRIEFLY discuss your analytical, interpretive and evaluative thoughts about the film. (Again, read the link above in #1 for an example of what I'm talking about.)
    I originally thought this went without saying, but try to watch movies that you have not seen before. I know it doesn't' say specifically what you have to watch; ultimately, it's your option. However, even if you sample something that you've tasted a thousand times, I hope that you'll look at it in a more critical light than that to which you are accustomed.

    There are a number of decent websites with "must see" lists of films for film students. Here are a couple I would recommend:

    The assignment will be due the Friday of the first week of school. Period. No exceptions, unless it is a REALLY good one, and even then I reserve the right to call shenanigans and say no. 

    AP English III

    There is a reading assignment for AP English III as well. 

    The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

    Gladwell defines a tipping point as "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point." The book seeks to explain and describe the "mysterious" sociological changes that mark everyday life. The following assignment will be due when you return; the exact day will be announced on day one, but anticipate that it will be due by the end of the first week.

    Assignment: Analysis Paper

    In The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the causes and effects of seemingly spontaneous events. Read the text of The Tipping Point carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze the rhetorical strategies Gladwell uses to convey his message about the sociological changes we experience in our daily lives. Support your analysis with specific references to the text.


    • Typed
    • 600-800 words
    • 12-point, Times-New-Roman font
    • Double spaced, one-inch margins
    • Parenthetical citations; e.g. (p123), etc.
    • MLA format

    Have a great summer. If you need to contact me with any questions, feel free to drop me a line at:

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