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4th Quarter, Language Arts 12

0.00 Start Here (English 12)

Course Description


The skills and understandings students are expected to demonstrate in this class have wide applicability outside the classroom or workplace.

In this class, students:

  • undertake the close, attentive reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature.
  • habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally.
  • actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews.
  • reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence that is essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic.

In short, students who meet the the requirements in this class develop the skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening that are the foundation for any creative and purposeful expression in language.


The "parental notification" file provided at the top of this page will show you how to set up ways to keep track of your student's progress.


Class Overview

WHAT THIS CLASS IS: This class is another way for you to earn your English 12 credit.   This is a one-quarter (.25 credit) class. You will work on your reading, research, writing, viewing, listening and speaking skills as specified in the Utah State Core Curriculum for Language Arts.

WHAT THIS CLASS IS NOT: This class is NOT an easy way to get your English credit without doing any real work. If that is what you are looking for, you will be disappointed. Plan on spending approximately the same amount of time on this class as you would in a traditional English class.


At least 11th grade level reading and writing skills.


To take this class, you will need:

  1. A computer with internet access.
  2. Word processing software to type your assignments. Microsoft Word is best.  

    You MUST have the ability to submit documents in one of the following file formats: .doc/.docx (Microsoft Word), .ppt/.pptx (PowerPoint), or .pdf. 

    If you use another program such as Pages or Open Office, make sure that you save your documents in one of the above formats before you upload them.

     *****! ! ! ! Contrary to what you read in the "homework note" in Module 1, DO NOT use "Notepad" or "Text Edit." (that note is intended for classes other than this one). I would prefer all documents to be submitted in one of above three formats as attachments or uploads.

  3. A .pdf converter if your word processing software doesn't allow you to save in one of the above fiile formats. Several are available free online from sources such as adobe, nemopdf, cutepdf, etc. 
  4. Acrobat Reader, Quicktime reader, and a PowerPoint reader (all available free online)



Each quarter will include the following requirements:

Reading Assignment.  A full-length book (or 2 plays--4th quarter). Details are given in the first overview of the quarter.  Many of the assignments you do throughout the quarter will relate to the book you are reading, requiring that you get a copy and get into it quickly.  You will also be required to respond to questions given on the novel study guide.  So you will need to copy it to your computer or print it out to have it available as you read.

Unit assignments:  These assignments are varied and are based on the skills outlined in the Utah State core.  Because the assignments are designed to build upon previous assignments, make sure that you do them in order (unless otherwise instructed.)  Most assignments require material that is available at links given.  Make sure that you access all required links. The information there is links is essential to completing the assignment accurately, and most of the quiz questions come from this material.

Vocabulary:  Vocabulary words are found on reading guide and/or the first overview of the quarter.  You will need to master these words--understand them and be able to use them in your writing.  These words will show up in quizzes and tests.

Skill Builder assignments:  These are mandatory reviews of writing skills or mechanics, usage, and grammar rules.  The are all are based on skills needed to complete an assignment and/or the most common errors in student writing.  Each review will come with explanation, and links for more help.  You will find many quiz and test questions coming from these reviews as well.

Literature Connection:  Within each unit is an assignment which will connect the ideas/skills from that unit to the novel you are reading.  These assignments are designed to help you read with more focus and skill and also to write effectively on the book.

Quizzes & Tests:  There will be quizzes for each unit and one final exam.  The final exam will need to be supervised by an approved EHS proctor.  The instructions at the "arranging to take your proctored final," will explain how to set up and take the test.  Note:  You must pass the final exam with a 60% or higher to receive credit for the course.

SUBMITTING ASSIGNMENTS:  Read instructions carefully to make sure you have fulfilled the requirements of each assignment.  Make sure that you do all your work on your own word processing software first. This way you will have access to the spelling and grammar checkers typically offered with this software and you will be able to archive your own copy of each assignment.  Unless you have made other arrangements with me, plan to save each of your assignments as .doc/docx, .pdf, or ppt/pptx files and submit as attachements or uploads.


With each activity, I’m looking for in-depth, critical thinking, creativity, and clear expression of ideas. The rubrics for each assignment will vary slightly depending on the objective of the lesson, so read each rubric carefully before you even put pen to paper, or in this case, finger to keyboard. This is much like the six-trait assessment you may have had experience with. Each assignment has a version of the rubric below.

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Thesis statement is clear and all requirements for assignment are met.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include detail which is specific and directly supports the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

What do the numbers mean?

  • 4 – Great – Did what was required and did it well.
  • 3 – Good – most of requirement elements there.
  • 2 – Fair – missing several of the required elements.
  • 1 – Needed much more work to be satisfactory.

If you think better in the A,B,C,D arena, you can correlate each number with a grade.


Important: because learning and writing are processes, you may always submit a revised, improved version of any assignment to improve your grade. Your final grade is determined by your average on assignments and quizzes, as well as your final test grade. The assignments and quizzes count 75%, and the final test counts 25%.

Grading scale:

  • A 90-100*
  • B+ 86-89
  • B 80-85
  • C+ 76-79
  • C 70-75
  • D+ 66-69
  • D 60-65
  • No credit - below 60

*Note:  An A grade will not be awarded to a student with zeroes on any of his or her assignments.

Time Requirements:  You have 10 weeks to complete the course.  You will have 2 weeks to complete each unit, and 2 weeks to get your final exam taken.  My suggestion:  Get out of the gate early--don't procrastinate.  Invariably, complications will arise in your life, and if you have given yourself a time-cushion, you won't get stuck with too much to do in too little time.  Even though you have 10 weeks, you may certainly choose to complete the course faster than that.

Suggested deadlines are as follows:

Unit 1, including the "About me," novel choice, and overview assignments:  2 weeks from the day you are enrolled in the course.
Unit 2 - 4 weeks from enrollment date
Unit 3 - 6 weeks from enrollment date
Unit 4 - 8 weeks from enrollment date
Final Exam - 10 weeks from enrollment date

The syllabus will give you an approxmiate length of time each assignment may require to complete.  Keep an eye on those time estimates to help you judge your time wisely.  There is also also a reading requiement (novels in quarters 1-3 and 2 plays in quarter 4).  You will also want to allow for 5-10 hours of reading time for the quarter reading assignment as well.

I'm glad to have you in my class.  Please review my contact information and feel free to contact me whenever you have questions or concerns.

00.01.01 Student Software Needs


Students need access to a robust internet connection and a modern web browser.

This class may also require the Apple QuickTime plug-in to view media.

For students using a school-issued Chromebook, ask your technical support folks to download the QuickTime plug-in and enable the plug-in for your Chromebook.


00.01.02 ABOUT ME

Write a short paragraph to the teacher. Introduce yourself. Use proper sentence structure including capitalization, punctuation and spelling. In this paragraph please also include the following information:

  • What year you are in school. 
  • Name of High School you attend.
  • Your counselor's name and email address.
  • The number of quarters of English 12 you will be taking from EHS and when you expect to graduate.
  • Parent's name and contact information.
  • A contact phone number for you.
  • Any specific information that would help me to understand how best to support you in this class.
  • IMPORTANT:  Click on the "How to review your assignments" link at the bottom of the page.  Review this short video and then include a sentence in your response letting me know that you understand how to see comments and feedback for your assignments.

VERY, VERY IMPORTANT:  By submitting your "About Me" you are agreeing to the stipulations set out in the "start here" section and to abide by the EHS honor code:  "As a student of the Electronic High School, I agree to turn in my assignments in a timely manner, do my own work, not share my work with others, and treat all students, teachers and staff with respect."

Make sure you've carefully reviewed all information in the "Start Here" section--especially the Course Requirements--and let's get to work.


13.00 QUARTER 4 - WORDS MATTER (English 12)

The theme of this quarter is "words matter." This technically could have been the theme for all four quarters of this class, but especially suits this quarter which will highlight some of the most famous words written in the English language. To get started with this idea, watch the video "The Power of Words." As you view this video, think about 'why' the difference.



So I could say: “People should tolerant and peaceful." Or you could listen to John Lennon’s words. Use the link to view a verse from his song, “Imagine.” Which did you find more convincing?



Words: They can educate, inspire, motivate, manipulate, amuse and deepen our experience. They "matter." In this quarter, I’d like you to focus on how authors craft their words and why they make the choices they do.

IMPORTANT:  At this point, your last quarter of senior English, it goes without saying that I expect college-level thinking and writing.  Though some of the assignments might sound simple, I expect each submission to be thorough, thoughtful, and meticulously proofread.  In essays, I want to see introductions with clear thesis statements and solid support.  Each response on one of the plays must include specific details and language from the play.  When you quote lines, please put the act, scene and line number in parentheses following the quote. 

There are some great things to read this quarter.  You'll enjoy them if you give yourself the time and space to dive in and play with them a little.

13.01 - Unit 13: “WHY HAMLET? (English 12)

This quarter starts off with a play-—Hamlet by William Shakespeare. So before you get nervous, let me take a minute to explain "why Hamlet?" In an introduction to Hamlet, Ian Johnston, of Vancouver Island University commented:

Shakespeare's Hamlet, written around 1600, is one of the most problematic texts in all of literature. With the exception of certain Biblical texts, no other work has produced such a continuing, lively and contentious debate about how we are supposed to understand it. In fact, one could very easily construct a thorough and intriguing history of modern literary criticism based upon nothing other than various interpretative takes on Hamlet (a task which has already been carried out by at least one historian of ideas). Given this critical confusion, we might as well admit up front that we are not going to arrive at anything like a firm consensus on what the play is about and how we should understand it. However, wrestling with this play is a very important and stimulating exercise, because it puts a lot of pressure on us to reach some final interpretation (that is, it generates in us a desire to make sense of all the elements in it, to find some closure), and, even if that goal eludes us, we can learn a great deal about reading poetic drama and interpreting literature from a serious attempt to grasp this most elusive work. If one of the really important functions of great literature is to stimulate thought-provoking conversations which force us to come to grips with many things about the text and about ourselves, then Hamlet is a particularly valuable work. Johnston, Ian. "Introductory Lecture on Shakespeare’s Hamlet." Malaspina-University College, Nanaimo, BC. Rev. 27 Feb 2001. Lecture

This study of Hamlet will focus on some of the major ideas and themes that are still relevant and interesting today. I have several steps in place to guide you through this play, and even though we aren't in a classroom, I want you to feel free to ask any questions you may have as you watch and read it. So to catch a glimpse of why this play still intrigues readers 300 hundred-plus years after it was written, let’s get the party started.

First, you will need to obtain either a paper or electronic copy of Shakespeare's Hamlet to read.

Second, you will want to find a filmed version of the play as well. Several options are given below.

Third, you will need to print out or download the study guides (given as .pdf files above). You will use them to guide your viewing/reading/study of the play.  The majority of questions on the quizzes and tests will be taken from those study guides. Now you are ready to begin. Because this can be a challenging assignment in an on-line environment, let me suggest that you follow closely these five steps:

1) If you are not familiar with the plot, read or watch a summary of the play.

2) Read carefully the information at the the "Understanding Shakespeare" and "Strategies for Reading Hamlet" links.

3) Review the "thinking/writing topics” section on the first study guide.

4) Watch a film version (pausing occasionally to fill out the study guides).

5) Read the play using the text to finish the study guides and then move to the assignments in the next two units. (You might want to read along as you listen to an audio version while you read--the language is really more fun when a good reader or actor presents it.)

By the time you sit dow to read the play--having read a summary and watched the movie--you should be very prepared to more deeply understand the language and the themes in the play.  Because the assignments for the next three units all have to deal with Hamlet, let me suggest, strongly suggest, nay, demand, that you don't try to get by without following the five steps above and taking time with the play. I know the language can be difficult at times, but good Shakespearean actors can make the language more accessible and help guide you through it. Both links for text versions contain "modern translations" which should help you as well. Here is a list of some of the film versions:

  • Hamlet, (1948). Directed. by Lawrence Olivier.
  • Hamlet (1964), starring Richard Burton. Directed by Bill Colleran and John Gielgud
  • Hamlet, (1964), directed by Grigori Kozintsev.
  • Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, (1980), (BBC-TV) starring Patrick Stewart and directed by Rodney Bennett
  • Hamlet, (1991), directed by Franco Zeffirelli, starring Mel Gibson.
  • Hamlet, (1996), starring Kenneth Branagh, Richard Attenborough, Judi Dench, Billy Crystal and Kate Winslet. Directed by Kenneth Branagh. (Most true to the play, and my favorite)
  • Hamlet 2000, starring Ethan Hawke, Julia Stiles, Kyle MacLachlan. Directed by Michael Almereyda. (This version is pretty tough to follow if you're not already very familiar with the play)
  • Hamlet (2010), staring David Tennant, Patrick Stewart.

There is a link to the most recent adaptation(2010)below as well as links for the complete text. There is also a link to an audio version. So now grab a bowl of popcorn, your study guides, a sharp pencil and begin. When you have finished viewing and  reading the play, move on to the assignments in the next few units.



*I’m confident, that you as a senior, have been exposed to Shakespeare before your enrollment in this class. But a little background review might yet be helpful. The “Background on Shakespeare” site will give you a little more insight into this controversial, but gifted, author.



Every time a writer puts pen to paper, it is because he or she has something to say—some sort of claim to make about people, the world, the way things are, or the way things should be. The playwright is no different, but for him, “the play’s the thing.” (Hamlet Act 2, scene 2,) The play is presented as the proof, or the illustration, of that claim.

The assignments of this unit will highlight some of the "craft" of the play—what, how and why Shakespeare did what he did. In a play, there is generally no omniscient narrator to explain everyone’s intentions and feelings; everything is revealed through the words and actions of the characters, so that is where we will focus most of our attention. Indeed, Shakespeare’s true genius shows in his characters. The more you study his characters the less clear they become. It’s not the story so much as it is the examination into the human psyche. That’s one of the reasons his plays still fascinate us—because we love to look at ourselves.

From the first lines in Act 1, Shakespeare introduces you to one of the most complex characters in English literature: Hamlet, prince of Denmark. For this assignment, I’d like you to write a 1-3 paragraph character examination of Hamlet.  Look back at Act 1 and consider the following questions to help you with your response.

  • How is he dressed?
  • What does he say?
  • What is his general mood?
  • What is his state of mind?
  • What are his characteristics, strengths, weaknesses?
  • Do you notice a comparisons to other literary or on-screen characters?
  • What about his resolve to avenge the king?
  • What about his methods?
  • How would you contrast him with Horatio?


teacher-scored 12 points possible 120 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Response, given in complete paragraphs, shows the required inquiry and analysis.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.


Hamlet talks more than any character in any Shakespeare play—and a lot of that talk is to himself (often called a monologue if other actors are present, if he is alone on stage while he speaks, we refer to it as a soliloquy).

The question here is why does Shakespeare spend so many lines on Hamlet's self reflection? Look at his soliloquies in the first three acts and, in an short essay, discuss what these do to shape the character of Hamlet and the plot to come (foreshadowing). As you look at these soliloquies, note also how you might compare/contrast the ideas, language and effect of these speeches.

Act 1, Scene 2, Lns. 132-162

Act 2, Scene2 , Lns. 541–600

Act 3, Scene 1, Lns. 63-97


teacher-scored 16 points possible 50 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Essay shows well thought-out analysis of the three soliloquies.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include detail which is specific & directly supports the thesis ideas.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  


We have discussed allusions* early in this course. In Hamlet, Shakespeare uses a number of allusions to mythic characters and stories. For example, look at these lines: “But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two / So excellent a king; that was, to this, / Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother.” (Act II, Scene ii)

When Hamlet compares his father to Hyperion, the god of the sun, and Claudius to a Satyr, an earthly, base, and sinful creature, you get a deeper sense of his distaste for his uncle. While these allusions would have been easily understood by Shakespearean audiences, they’re not as easily understood today. So, for this assignment, I’d like you to research one of these mythical references from acts II & III and explain it. Explain, not only the mythical reference, but also discuss how and why the mythical allusion is used in the play.

Act II

  • Niobe
  • Aeneas
  • Dido
  • Priam
  • Cyclops
  • Mars



  • Hecuba
  • Tellus
  • Phoebus
  • Neptune
  • Hymen
  • Mercury
  • Vulcan
  • Hecate
  • Nymphs


  • *ALLUSION: A casual reference in literature to a person, place, event, or another passage of literature. Allusions can originate in mythology, biblical references, historical events, legends, geography, or earlier literary works. Authors often use allusion to establish a tone, create an implied association, contrast two objects or people, make an unusual juxtaposition of references, or bring the reader into a world of experience outside the limitations of the story itself. Authors assume that the readers will recognize the original sources and relate their meaning to the new context.
  • MOTIF: A conspicuous recurring element, such as a type of incident, a device, a reference, or verbal formula, which appears frequently in works of literature. For instance, the "loathly lady" who turns out to be a beautiful princess is a common motif in folklore.
  • Composition and Literature. Carson-Newman College, Aug. 2012. Web. 22, August 2012.


teacher-scored 12 points possible 30 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Comprehensive discussion of how or why the mythical allusion was used.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized and didn’t give me any “huh?” moments.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  


As you read anything, you should always keep an eye out for imagery and important symbols*.  Analyzing the authors use of these literary devices can add a great deal to the reader’s understanding of character and plot. For example, Yorick’s skull, which Hamlet holds in his hands just before learning of the death of Ophelia, conjures images of the innocence and mirth of youth as well as the capriciousness and inevitability of death. This symbol provides both irony--because Hamlet does not yet know of Ophelia's death--and a foreshadowing of the tragedy that is still to come.  Another stark image is created when Hamlet applies references to his mother’s marriage as a decaying, “rank” garden—an allusion to the Garden of Eden where, in literary tradition it is suggested that Eve’s sins brought an end to all the joy and splendor the garden once held.

Symbols which would have been very well known to Shakespeare’s original audiences are the flowers. Flowers carried very distinct meanings. When Ophelia goes mad in Act IV she hands out flowers and alludes to the symbolic meaning of each.

Rosemary = remembrance, often between lovers
Rue = regret
Pansies = thoughts, thoughtful
Fennel = there are two possible meanings: strength and praiseworthiness or marital infidelity
Columbine = folly, ingratitude and thanklessness, insincerity,
Daisy = innocence, forsaken love
Violets = faithfulness and modesty?

Ophelia doesn’t mention for whom these flowers are intended, but now that you know the story, you can make some guesses. Read her lines again:

There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you,(190) love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts. There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you, and here's some for me. We may call it herb of grace o'(195) Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference! There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither'd all when my father died. They say he made a good end—

The first part of this assignment is to explain for which characters Ophelia intended her flowers and why you believe so.  Don’t limit your choices to the characters in the room with her; she may intend flowers and the meanings associated with them to other characters as well.

The second step of this assignment is to use one of the links below to design your own bouquet.  You need to explain who the bouquet would be for, which flowers you would choose and why--what the flowers symbolize. 

  • *SYMBOL: A word, place, character, or object that means something beyond what it is on a literal level. For instance, consider the stop sign. It is literally a metal octagon painted red with white streaks. However, everyone on American roads will be safer if we understand that this object also represents the act of coming to a complete stop.
  • IMAGERY: A common term of variable meaning, imagery includes the "mental pictures" that readers experience with a passage of literature. Wheeler L. Kip. “Literary Terms and Definitions,” Composition and Literature. Carson-Newman College, Aug. 2012. Web. 22, August 2012.



teacher-scored 12 points possible 50 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Includes both parts of the assignment and shows the required critical thinking.   /4  
Clarity   Reasoning behind evaluation is clear and writing is focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  


While it’s the story that initially draws you to Shakespeare, it’s the language that will bring you back again. Shakespeare’s language is can be biting, funny, bawdy and beautiful. Even Shakespeare's tragedies are spiced with puns, slang and tongue-in-cheek humor. The assignments in this unit let you continue to explore the figurative language Shakespeare uses in the play, as well as how and why he uses it.


Below is a list of famous quotes from the play. For this assignment, choose one and discuss it--include speaker, context, meaning, and any wordplay that you see. Then, re-write it in modern language, or give an example of how the idea would apply to a situation in contemporary society.

  • A little more than kin, and less than kind. (Act I, Scene ii).
  • Not so, my lord, I am too much in the sun. (Act I, Scene ii).
  • Excellent well; you are a fishmonger" (Act II, Scene ii), (Hint: a “fishmonger” was, perhaps, slang for pimp)
  • My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.  Words without thoughts never to heaven go (Act I, Sc. iii, 100-103)
  • Though this be madness, yet there is method in't. (Act II, Scene ii).
  • There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. (Act II, Scene ii).
  • The lady doth protest too much, methinks. (Act III, Scene ii).
  • Brevity is the soul of wit. (Act II, Scene ii).
  • Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind. (Act III, Scene i).
  • When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions. (Act IV, Scene v).
  • Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. (Act I, Scene iv )
  • Get thee to a nunnery (Act III, Scene i) (Hint: “nunnery” was also slang for brothel)
  • Hum! This fellow might be in's time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries: is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? (Act IV, Scene i) (When explaining that the skull in the graveyard might be a lawyer.)


teacher-scored 12 points possible 15 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Quote is discussed thoroughly and rewritten so that it shows understanding of the quote.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

14.02 "TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE . . . "

This assignment relates to some of the most quoted, and often misquoted, lines in this play: Polonius’ advice to Laertes. Before you re-read this speech, though, first, read the information at the “What is irony?” link. Now, read the speech from Act I, Scene iii, 59-85 and respond to the following questions:

  1. To whom is the speech addressed?
  2. In what context is this speech given?
  3. What do you know about Polonius?
  4. Explain three specific pieces of advice he gives--cite the advice and what it means.
  5. What irony can you find? To find irony in this speech, look at the contrast between what Polonius says and what he does, and between what he says and what he means.
  6. After looking at the irony in this situation, speculate on the underlying message in Polonius' advice and discuss what you think.



teacher-scored 12 points possible 30 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Each question answered completely and in a way that shows knowledge and understanding of the selection.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized and didn’t give me any “huh?” moments.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

14.03 ADVICE

It’s pretty common for people of my generation to look back at what we wish we would have known at younger stages in our lives--and then try to communicate it to those we care about as they venture out into the world. At this point in your life, you have probably been on the receiving end of a good deal of this kind of advice (perhaps more often than you would like) from caring adults around you. A lot has been said about Polonius’ advice to Laertes. What advice would you have given him? The links below take you to some of my favorite “advice.” For this activity, view at least one of the links listed, and then compose a letter to your own future sons or daughters (or nieces and nephews, or to anyone of the upcoming generation) describing what you think would be important for them to know as they set out into the world.



teacher-scored 12 points possible 40 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Letter shows thinking and effort.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized and didn’t give me any “huh?” moments.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  


Shakespeare’s Hamlet is considered a revenge tragedy. In a tragedy, the main character often has a tragic flaw. It is a flaw which causes an otherwise noble or exceptional character to bring about his or her own downfall and, often, eventual death. Many argue that Hamlet’s flaw is his inability to act on instinct - he thinks too much,and acts too late. Do our flaws really determine our fate? For this lesson, we’ll leave Hamlet for a minute to talk about you. Do you have a character flaw? Through this lesson you will learn about your own limitations or imperfections, as well as your strengths, and decide whether or not your flaw or flaws determine who you could be. The instruction are a little lengthy, but make sure you go through each of the 4 steps and include your results/notes from each of the 4 steps in your assignment submission.

Step 1 – Multiple Intelligence Inventory

  • First, use the first link below to take the Multiple Intelligence Inventory. In creating this inventory, educational reformer Howard Gardner, wanted to show that mental ability could be measured in eight different ways. This test, instead of determining if people are smart attempts to identify how people are smart. This is called metacognition – thinking about how you think.
  • Copy or write down your 8 learning styles scores from highest to lowest.

Step 2 - Personality Assessment

  • Next take the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory. This assessment is based on the work of the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and is designed to help you analyze your personality type. While the first assessment focuses on skills, the second is designed to measure preferences-—what you do when you have a choice.
  • After you take the assessment, you will get a 4-letter type and then you will need to click on the “Profiles of the 16 Myers Briggs Personality Types” to learn more about this personality type. You may find you agree with your results, or perhaps not. If you feel that the descriptions of your type do not fit you, go back and try swapping a letter or two and then read the resultant personality description of the new tag to see if it's a better fit. Once you have a 4-letter tag that best fits, list the characteristics of this temperament.

Step 3 - Evaluation

  • Review your notes from both assessments. Do you notice any similarities? Contradictions? Do you feel that these assessments give an accurate picture of your strengths and weaknesses? What do they say about how you interact with others and how you like to spend your time?
  • Now you need to get a second opinion. Choose someone who knows you well - a family member or close friend. This must be a real conversation. No texting, please! Show, read, or explain the results of both assessments to your chosen collaborator. Ask if he or she thinks the results are accurate. Make note of any additional information this source gives you regarding your temperament or learning history.

Step 4 - Writing

  • Now you will use the information you’ve gathered about yourself to write a self-analysis essay. However, the trick here will be to focus on how one of your limitations or weaknesses (flaws) has impacted you and how this limitation will or will not affect you in the future. Has becoming aware of your limitations changed the way you think about you? How will becoming aware of your limitation(s) affect you? Remember Hamlet’s flaw – often described as indecision or procrastination. How would his story have been different if he had conquered his limitations?
  • In constructing your essay you will need to
    1. Formulate a thesis statement introducing one of your limitations and its impact on who you are now (1st paragraph).
    2. Seek to support your characterization with specific evidence and examples from your life (1 – 2 paragraphs). Use at least one example or idea suggested by the family member or friend and put his or her name in parenthesis at the end of the information.
    3. Discuss the role this flaw will have in your future. Is this something you could use to your advantage? Is it something you can overcome? Will your flaw define you? (1 paragraph) What strengths may trump your weakness?
    4. Provide a concluding paragraph that supports the information you have presented in your essay without sounding redundant.



teacher-scored 20 points possible 60 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Essay shows critical thinking, and thoughtful evaluation, and evidence of all 4 steps in the assignment. /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include the required detail and specific & directly support your analysis.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused & well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  
Extra Points   Results/notes of steps 1, 2, & 3 included as well.   /4  

15.00 "All's Golden Words are Spent" (Act V, scn 2)

This unit we’re going to stay with Hamlet. This unit will require you to think a little deeper about broad themes within play.

The first three lessons in this unit require you to make a critical response to a major theme in the play.  For each of these assignments, I’d like you to write a type of rough draft called an Expanded Outline. Then for the final assignment in this unit you will take one of these outlines and polish it into a complete essay. Before you start, take some time to look at the details I want to see in an expanded outline and to review the information at the links below.

Expanded Outline.  For an expanded outline you must have the following:

  1. Thesis with a claim that is debatable
  2. Supporting points which can help you prove your thesis
  3. Specific evidence--For each supporting point, list situations, events, quotes, page/line numbers—to back up each of those points

*I'm not too concerned about the signposting you use, but use something--A, B, C or I, II, III or some type of outline structure to separate and distinguish your ideas.

The temptation here will be to rush through these outlines--they seem easy right?  You should find, however, that writing a good outline can be as difficult, or even more challenging, than just writing out a few paragraphs on a topic.  Therefore, you will need to dedicate a significant amount of time to carefully consider and analyze your ideas for these outlines.  The ideas you develop here will be important not only for your understanding and enjoyment of the play, but also as you respond to subsequent assignments, quiz questions, and test questions.


15.01 - Analyzing a Critical Essay

One of the reasons always given for Shakespeare’s enduring popularity is that his themes are so applicable to human experience no matter the era. In his critical essay, Ian Johnston makes some interesting observations about appearance and reality in Hamlet. As you read this excerpt(found at the .pdf attachment above), consider what Shakespeare is saying about people and whether or not this is something that can be said about people today. After you read this selection I will ask you to consider your response and compose an extended outline for an essay you could write about your response.


teacher-scored 12 points possible 60 minutes

In this essay, the author makes a couple of interesting claims: First, that people generally put on different personae, or play different roles, depending on the circumstance and what will most benefit them in different situations; and Second, that those who don’t—those who are genuine—are at an extreme disadvantage. For this first activity choose one of the questions below to respond to (Remember that all that is required here is an expanded outline.)

  1. This is what Ian Johnston claims Shakespeare was saying. Do you agree that this is what Shakespeare meant?
  2. If this is what Shakespeare was saying, does art mirror real life here—is this how the world is?

Assessment Rubric:

Thesis   Expanded outline contains a thesis that is debatable and focused.   /4  
Support   Outline includes at least two points of support and lists evidence which is specific and directly supports the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   While not a polished draft, the ideas are clear.   /4  

15.02 "Frailty Thy Name is Woman"

As you probably guessed from the title, the purpose of this assignment is to examine the role of women in the play. Before you begin this activity, though, some background is essential. Read the information at the two links on Elizabethan Women below.

Now that you have read a little on what life was like for women of the period, I’d like you to examine Shakespeare’s treatment of one of the women in the play by choosing one of the questions below to respond to—once again, I’m looking for an expanded outline rather than the completed essay.

1) Is Gertrude simple, duped, and easily manipulated or a strong queen and loving mother? Use all you were able to learn about Gertrude, especially Act III, scn. 4.

2) Is Ophelia a weak pawn of the men around her or is she the only character in the play who isn’t weak, full of indecision, and easily manipulated? Some important scenes for analysis here might be Act 3 Scene 1, and Act 3 scn 2



teacher-scored 12 points possible 60 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Thesis   Expanded outline contains a thesis that is debatable and focused.   /4  
Support   Outline includes at least two points of support and lists evidence which is specific and directly supports the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   While not a polished draft, the ideas are clear.   /4  

15.03 "Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark" (Act I, Scn. 4)

For you last expanded outline, I'd like you to answer the question: Is Hamlet the victim or the cause of the tragedy?


teacher-scored 12 points possible 60 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Thesis   Expanded outline contains a thesis that is debatable and focused.   /4  
Support   Outline includes at least two points of support and lists evidence which is specific and directly supports the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   While not a polished draft, the ideas are clear.   /4  

15.04 Writing Your Final Draft

For your final assignment with Hamlet, I'd like you to take one of your outlines from the previous 3 assignments and develop it into a complete essay. Make sure that your thesis and support for it are clear and that you have edited for errors. There is a list of links below that can help you with the writing and revising of your essay.


teacher-scored 20 points possible 60 minutes

For grading purposes, please include your rough draft once again with this submission. Assessment Rubric:

Content   Thesis statement answers the question posed and is part of an interesting introduction. Essay shows critical thinking and understanding of the play.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs provide support for the thesis with specific detail, examples, and quotes from the text.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused & well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  
Extra Points   Rough draft is included and final draft shows evolution of thought as well as sharp editing skills.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.

16.00 - "The Importance of Being Earnest"

In the event Hamlet left you feeling less than uplifted, we’re going to end this quarter with a comedy: Oscar Wilde’s, “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

Unlike Hamlet, you can easily understand and enjoy this play just reading it. However, like most plays, it can be more fun to watch. While you will need access to a printed or digital text version, there is a 2002 film with Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Frances O’Connor, Reese Witherspoon, and Judy Dench which I quite liked. Or, I understand, there is a BBC version you might be able to get online as well.

This final unit is separated into 3 sections/assignments: pre-reading, reading, and post-reading, so assignment 1 should be completed and turned in before you read and view the play.


16.01 Pre-reading - "Who is Earnest?"

It is important that you finish each of the activities below before you read/watch the play. Do each on your own word processing software and then attach them to this assignment and submit them all together:

a) Look up “earnest” in the dictionary and give me an idea of what “being earnest” might mean.

b) Read about Victorian society at the link provided below. This short article will help you understand many of the themes and interactions in the play. While reading, jot down some of the important ideas—especially in the areas of social responsibility,ideology, politics & society, change, education, social classes, and issues surrounding women and men.

c) This play has been said to be the funniest play in the English language, so a look at types of humor can be especially helpful here. Using the link provided, define or give examples of the following types of humor:

  1. Paradox
  2. Parody
  3. Advisor
  4. Banter
  5. Epigram
  6. Hyperbole
  7. Irony
  8. Nonsensism
  9. Satire
  10. Wordplay (wit)


d) Read through the writing choices in assignment 3 to help focus your reading. (You don’t have to turn anything in for this last one)


Since the "Types of Humor" site is temporarily down, go to the next page to view the definitions.

16.02 - "Do You Smoke? (Active Reading)

While you are reading and viewing the play, pay close attention to what Wilde does to create humor. Also think about what author is saying on these topics:

marriage, honesty, Victorian society, social class, wealth, hypocrisy, romance & love, strict codes of social conduct, gender roles

Now, for something to hand in, choose one of the options below:

Option 1: One of the funniest verbal interchanges in the play is where Lady Bracknell is interviewing Jack(Earnest) as a potential husband for Gwendolyn. Either stop at that point in the play or you can wait until you have finished watching/reading the play. Now review the scene either by re-reading it or by viewing the selection “Do You Smoke?” at the link below. Then choose one or two of the topics above and answer the question: What has Wilde done to poke fun at this topic?

Option 2: Use the "Quotes" link to re-read some of the famously funny lines from the play. Choose one of the quotes that made you laugh (or smile)and using the "Types of Humor" that you defined in the previous assignment and your knowledge of the play, explain why it is so funny.


16.03 “Now produce your explanation and pray make it improbable.” (post-reading)

Here are some of the topics from the play—each given from two opposing viewpoints. Choose one of the view points from one of the topics and write a well-developed essay on your position. You may want to review the ideas at the “writing a response essay” link given below.

a) Honesty:

In The Importance of Being Earnest, the men’s lies are justified because they lie primarily so that they can spend time with the women they love. – or – In The Importance of Being Earnest, the men’s lies are not justified because they lie primarily to get out of social responsibilities.

b) Social Responsibility

Although Wilde pokes fun at Victorian society, he ultimately supports the idea of socially-prescribed standards that people should live up to. – or – Although each character in Earnest strives to be respectable, none actually believes in the socially-prescribed standards, and all often mock the idea that one can be both respectable and happy.

c) Roles of Women

Figures like Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen, and Cecily reverse gender role stereotypes by exercising power and control over the opposite sex – or – Although the female characters exercise power briefly, they also conform to many female stereotypes – ultimately ensuring that the play upholds traditional gender stereotypes instead of challenging or changing them.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Importance of Being Earnest Theme of Foolishness and Folly" Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 14 Oct. 2012.


16.04 - Satire

One of the most prevalent types of humor you'll find in "The Importance of Being Earnest" is satire--so it deserves a closer look.

What is Satire? Webster’s Dictionary definition:

1: a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.

2: trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly.

Satire is usually used to say something the author deems important. In satire, beneath the irony, exaggeration, and ridicule, you will find the writer’s assertion that there is a moral or logical standard which is not being met. The satirist’s goal is to point out the hypocrisy in the target and convince his or her audience that real change is warranted. Some contemporary examples of satire might be The Steven Colbert show, Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update or editorial cartoons.

The link below leads to a short video. This video is a fake campaign ad for Steven Colbert who, as a joke, entered himself as a candidate for president in the 2008 election. Can you spot everything the video is satirizing?

Here are some questions to help:

What kind of character do we expect from our elected officials?
What kinds of images do we generally associate with patriotism? Look for the images of famous people.
How is he associating or disassociating himself with these people?
Can satire be used as propaganda?



teacher-scored 12 points possible 30 minutes

Now I'd like you to look at some political cartoons. The web page, "Cartoons for the Classroom," is found at the link below. Peruse this site to find a cartoon you'd like to evaluate. You may use “This Week’s Lesson” or any of the cartoons from previous lessons. Then in a short essay, respond to the following questions:

  1. Why is this satire?
  2. What is the cartoonist is making fun of?
  3. What are the opinions the cartoonist has on this topic?
  4. How do you know? What evidence can you see (details from the cartoon) that illustrate those opinions?
  5. In your response give me your opinion on the topic?  Tell me if you agree or disagree with the point make by the cartoonist and why.  Also tell me whether the cartoon swayed your opinion one way or the other.

Important: Include the link to the cartoon when you submit your assignment. Assessment Rubric:

Content   Each question answered completely and in a way that shows knowledge and understanding of the cartoon.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused & well organized—didn’t give me any “huh?” moments.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.


16.05 "A Modest Proposal"

In this lesson, I'm going to ask you to read one of the most famous pieces of satire, Johnathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal."

Jonathan Swift was a satirist of the 18th century. He took on topics such as government corruption, human nature, religious folly, and, in “A Modest Proposal,” treatment of the poor. Before you read the essay, though, go to the first link below to view an image of a broadside. Broadsides were sheets of paper which were pasted up in public places to announce events, make political statements, or disseminate information. This broadside dates much later than Swift wrote, but will give you a feel for the issues about which he wrote. (You may need to use the magnifying glass in the upper left corner to view the image)

  • What attitude toward the poor do you see portrayed in the drawing?
  • What attitude do you see in the ballad below it?
  • What words or phrases show that attitude?



teacher-scored 20 points possible 60 minutes

The full title of Swift’s essay is “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public.“  The title explains his topic and hints to the satire that will follow.

Swift wrote this essay as a response to the poverty he witnessed in Ireland, and his proposal is hardly “modest.” You will discover he doesn’t mean what he is literally saying, but you will need to decide what you believe his real thesis is.

After reading “A Modest Proposal,” you will need to write a well developed essay (strong thesis statement, clear supporting "evidence" from the text, solid conclusion) addressing one of the following questions:

1. What is Swift’s real thesis and how do you know? What details from the essay prove that to you?

2. How does the author’s use of satire impact the effectiveness of the essay?

3. How does the contrast between the speaker’s point of view and Swift’s point of view develop through the essay?

To help you find specific details to support your thesis, record your answers to the questions below as you read “A Modest Proposal” and turn your notes in with your essay.

1. A clear difference exists between Swift and the persona who makes this proposal. Characterize the proposer.
2. Look closely at paragraphs 4, 6, and 7, and study how the appeals to logic are put in mathematical and economic terms. Identify words and phrases that help achieve this effect. How does this “data” help him make his argument?
3. Give the three main plans of the persona's proposal.
4. What, according to the persona, are the advantages of his solution? (he lists several)
5. Make a list of the social problems in Ireland that Swift exposes through his satire.
6. Swift does offer "serious" solutions to the problems of life in Ireland near the end of his essay. List the three that you think are the most important.
7. Review your recent assignment on figurative language. Find 3 examples of figurative language in “A Modest Proposal” and explain the author’s choice to use each. How did those examples help the author “make his case”?
8. Why do you think this author chose satire rather than a more straightforward argumentative style?

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Thesis statement is clear and effectively addresses the question.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include detail which is specific & directly supports the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused & well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  
Extra Requirements   Complete notes included.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.