.illustration of "The School" by Joshua in 5th Period 2016
It's February and after reading two plays and writing some Question 3 essays, we need to work on prose analysis again... so I've compiled this collection of intriguing short shorts for my AP English Literature class. Students will spend one day reading and annotating the stories. Then, I will place the students in groups and assign each group a story on which to focus their analysis. The idea is that the group will present a 10-minute paper. (I just made that up--The 10-Minute Paper. But it's working pretty well. No essays to grade.) Each member of the group needs to contribute, say something insightful, and do something other than read off a sheet of paper or PowerPoint slide.
The idea is that the group will present a thesis and two body paragraphs, including topic sentences and textual support. Every member of the group needs to contribute commentary or interpretation.
The short story collection includes Annie Proulx's "55 Miles to the Gas Pump," Donald Barthelme's "The School," "Everything is Green" by David Foster Wallace, "Birthday Party" by Katherine Brush, "Popular Mechanics" by Raymond Carver, "The Eclipse" by Augusto Monterroso, "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, and finally Bonnie Jo Campbell's "The Sleep-over." "Birthday Party" was on the 2005 AP Literature Exam.
Presentations last a little longer than 10 minutes, especially since I'm awarding points to members of the audience who ask questions. When the whole class poses questions to the group presenting, interesting conversations happen, but presentations do slow down.
Following the presentations, each individual can submit a paper or instructors can save one of the short shorts for a cold timed writing. This year I'm not going to do either. Too tired.
Vocabulary and Skills: Prose analysis, thesis, topic sentences, dark humor, burlesque.
Collection of Short Shorts
Rubric for Presentation Grade
I teach AP English Literature and dual-credit English at Ridge Point High School in Missouri City, Texas.