Pre-AP Summer Writing Prompts

Here are the writing prompts for the essay required of students scheduled to take Pre-AP English. If you have already received a list of prompts and written your essay, you may disregard this post. It is intended for those students whose packet was missing the list. 

Each prompt relates to Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon . Choose one and follow the directions in your summer work packet. For those of you who enjoyed reading To Kill a Mockingbird more, don’t despair — you’ll have a chance to respond to that novel, too, once school starts. 

1.) In Chapter 4, Helen points out that her children (and all children in the 1950’s) “have lived under the shadow of war — atomic war.” Do you believe children of today live under a similar shadow or shadows? What events, states of mind, or other phenomena shape the “stage” on which children live their lives in the early 21st century?

2.) To what extent does “survival of the fittest” apply in Fort Repose after The Day? What do Randy and the others understand that phrase to mean? What do you understand it to mean? You may need to do a little background research to help you. 

3.) Why do you think the author used a phrase from the Revelation of John (in the Bible) as the title of the book? To what extent do you think he intended the references to Babylon in Chapters 17 and 18 of The Revelation to refer to the United States in the late 1950’s? To what extent do they relate to the United States today?

4.) What is the sequence of the escalating breakdown of “normal” order, institutions, and public services? How do people react to the sudden absence of services and procedures that they–we–take for granted? Would reactions today be different or similar? What do you think is the most serious loss?

5.) Note the importance of Alice and Florence in the novel. Analyze the development of these two characters and explain what they represent — consider their careers, family life, relationships to other characters, and brief but frequent appearances in the novel. 

6.) What is the sequence of the escalating breakdown of “normal” order, institutions, and public services? How do people react to the sudden absence of services and procedures that they–we–take for granted? Would reactions today be different or similar? What do you think is the most serious loss?


* Some of these prompts have been adapted from discussion questions on 

Honors AR Options

Here are links to information about the AR books honors students should choose from for their next reading assignment:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (10th grade only)

Vanity Fair by William M. Thackeray (12th grade only)

Please note that these links take you to not because I expect you to purchase the books, but rather because it is a good quick resource for reviews (scroll down to find them) and excerpts of the books.

My students in Regular English are of course encouraged to read these books also, however they are not required to do so.

Happy Summer…

I hope all of you are having an enjoyable summer, and completing your mandatory summer reading assignments (hint hint). If you are unsure of the assignment for your particular English class, click the “Summer Reading” icon (it’s a cartoonish sunshine and a red book) on the right side of the school district’s website.  If you have questions, please get in touch. 

In other news: this article from today’s New York Times is a very worthwhile read, so I recommend taking a peek when you have a chance. This has been a big topic of discussion in professional circles of teachers and librarians for some time, and I was very pleased to see that it has entered a more widespread public dialogue. I’ll be interested to hear what you think about this when we return to school! Talk to your parents about it to hear their perspective, too. It might turn into an interesting conversation.

A Separate Peace link

Sophomores, here is the link mentioned in class: Philips Exeter A Separate Peace site.It is maintained by the actual prep school author John Knowles attended in his youth. When you arrive at the site, there will be several red squares above a photo of Knowles. Please click on the one that says “Photo Essay” and view the entire slide show — be sure to read the commentary and novel excerpts. You are expected to have done this by Monday, 4/7. Happy reading! 

CVCC Students – Update – Real World English Assignment

Today we worked in class on “reading the fine print” of credit card agreements and solicitations. I have copies of the assignments for each of you, and you should pick them up tomorrow. They are due (for you) on Friday of this week – please don’t let your make-up work build up. You should get started by watching this video clip that will make you understand WHY it is important to read anything before you sign it (when we have a Real World English quiz, the material in clip WILL be included).   

4th period CVCC Students – Monday assignment

First of all, THANK YOU for remembering to check here for updates. This will keep you on track during this week that you’ll be missing class. Today we will be writing thank you notes to the people we interviewed with last Thursday. Please stop in today or tomorrow for your interviewer’s contact information (and, if you weren’t here on Friday, the instructions for the assignment). Remember, this is the GRADED portion of the mock interview process. THIS ASSIGNMENT IS DUE ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12th. Please turn it in to me or put it in my mailbox (DON’T seal the stamped & addressed envelope or I won’t be able to give you a grade for the letter!). AR QUIZZES: If you have not yet taken a quiz for your current AR book, please remember that you are welcome to come in early to take them. Monday, March 17th is the absolute last day to get credit, and it’s you’re responsibility to find a time to take it. Remember to check in again tomorrow. Have a good day!  

Snow (Ice?) Day Reminders


Enjoy having the day off today, but please remember that TOMORROW (Thursday, March 7th) is your mock interview day. Dress appropriately, and bring your Career Portfolio or resume. Here are some more details about what to wear/bring and what NOT to wear/bring.
Aren’t you glad now that we practiced yesterday instead of waiting until today? 🙂

We will resume work on our Hamlet essays during OGT week. CVCC students, I will give you the necessary info before or after your interviews tomorrow.


Be sure to have your homework done before class on Thursday (the nine questions you were to answer about the sample OGT response). Also, during class tomorrow you will commit to which Julius Caesar character you will analyze in the essay you’ll be writing. If you have computer trouble for Study Island, I recommend going to the library.


Don’t forget to complete SI assignments and the homework that was assigned on Tuesday. If you are the one person who was absent that day, don’t worry –you will get caught up quickly after completing your Julius Caesar Test.

I think that’s everything. Be careful out there – it’s a good day to stay inside and read a book, hint hint.

Seniors – Resources for your third AR book

On Tuesday, February 5th you will be assigned supplementary readings (to be read by Tuesday, February 12th) that relate to your third AR book. Please use the following list to access the readings:

If you are reading PERSEPOLIS, click here.

If you are reading THE KITE RUNNER, click here.

If you are reading FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER, click here.

Please click here if you are reading PALESTINE.

Here is your link if you are reading A LONG WAY GONE.

Once you get there, follow the directions given in class on 2/5. Please feel free to go beyond the requirements and explore the sites further! There will be more supplemental readings over the next few weeks; if you come across something interesting that you’d like to share with your group please post a link to it in a comment or just print it out and bring it to class.

Remember, each Tuesday in February you will need to bring your book to help you complete an activity related to it.

Satire Resources

English IV students:        Over the next few weeks, we will be studying satire, parody, and other intelligently humorous forms of communication. The following links will be helpful to you: Daryl Cagle’s Professional Cartoon Index  and You may use resources from either site for your satire analysis paragraphs.