Asking Questions


††††††††† This course is about asking questions. Mr. Addie and I will ask many of them, but we expect you to ask even more. The level of benefit you receive from Senior Seminar will depend on how good you become at asking the RIGHT questions. The Advanced Placement tests in May will ask you tough questions, too, but those of you who score very well will probably be the ones who probe and ask questions of your own. The thoughtful student and citizen of our classroom will realize there are many answers to most questions, and that each answer deserves our respect and consideration. Let ďthoughtfulĒ be the buzzword of Seminar.


††††††††††† Our goal is to prepare you for lives of responsible citizenship by teaching you to reflect critically on your own assumptions and beliefs by studying the writing, statements, and actions of others.




††††††††††† Each Seminar activity will be followed by the writing of a connecting log. In those logs we will ask you to explore the issues raised in the Seminar and write concretely and philosophically about them. Youíll quickly learn the difference between thoughtfulness, and empty assertions you think sound good, but donít mean much. (We call those SGNS---sounds good no substance.) There will be three or four Seminar activities per quarter, each followed by the writing or a 3 point log due the next class period. Those logs must be typed.



††††††††††† The portfolio will be your creative outlet for the first two quarters. Youíre half way between teen and adult, wanting it all but not certain how everything will turn out. You feel ambivalent and conflicted. You are a perfect candidate for introspective, complex writing. Youíll need a plan, a word processor, and some courage. Write poems or college essays or letters to future roommates. Itís up to you. The final product must be polished and show pride of workmanship. This will be worth over one third of your grade for first and second quarters.


Timed Writings


††††††††††† These essay tests are like the AP exam and your future college midterms. You will need to think creatively, using concrete examples from the test. This is the hardest part of my course. I use the national AP standard for grading, and itís hard to dispute my judgment since Iíve been grading the AP exam for twelve years for the

Educational Testing Service. Although itís hard to do well on the timed writings, youíll feel incredibly accomplished each time you improve your score. They are graded on a nationally-agreed-upon scale of nine points.


Extra Credit


††††††††††† Youíll need it after the timed writings! Each time you see a Shakespearean play performed live youíll receive 2 points extra credit (maximum 4 points per quarter.) Iíve reserved half price seats for The Shakespeare Theatre in D.C. for three plays: Timon of Athens, Richard II, and Love's Labour's Lost. All will be Sunday matinees. Seats are limited so reserve early.


††††††††††† You can also receive up to two points for reading a book from my shelves and writing a two-page response to it. It must be a book you havenít received grade credit for reading before. Your total extra credit cannot exceed four points per quarter.





††††††††††† 1984

Their Eyes are Watching God

††††††††††† Hamlet

††††††††††† Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

††††††††††† The Dubliners

††††††††††† Metamorphosis

††††††††††† Poetry by John Donne, Keats, Tennyson, Atwood, Marvell and others

††††††††††† Choice novel written by a female (novel into film unit)

††††††††††† Things Fall Apart

††††††††††† The Old Man Who Read Love Stories

††††††††††† Choice novel for GMU Colloquium




††††††††††† At the end of fourth quarter you will teach freshmen or sophomores. You will have the pleasure of designing a Seminar for them. This is a difficult and rewarding way to complete the year.


AP Test


††††††††††† All students in Senior Seminar will take both the English and Government AP tests in May. You can take either the AP Language Test (May 7) or the AP Literature Test (May 9) free of charge. If you take both, you will need to pay for one of them.






††††††††††† Just because Mr. Addie and I are good guys and love you doesnít mean we donít follow the rules. We follow the rules BECAUSE weíre nice and love you. Youíll be graded according to the Fairfax County Grading Scale. Youíll receive an interim. Work missed on a day youíre unexcused absent cannot be made up. Tardies will result in a warning, then a detention, and (third infraction) an administrative detention. There will be no sodas in the classroom. All students will respect others and refrain from behaving in a demeaning fashion. Late work will result in a grade deduction for each class period. In the case of connecting logs, late logs will be penalized a point for every calendar day late. An honor code will be in effect for all assignments and extra credit. Plagiarism, in whole or in part, as well as cheating and misrepresenting your work are honor code violations.


††††††††††† Mr. Addie and I will remain after school on Wednesdays and Thursdays for make-up work, extra help, and detentions.


Point Distribution


††††††††††††††† Portfolio†††††††††††††††††††††† 20†††††††

††††††††††† Publication††††††††††††††††††† 10

††††††††††† Drafts†††††††††††††††††††††††††† 6

††††††††††† Timed Writings 18 or 27

††††††††††† Oral Presentations††††††† 5 or 10

††††††††††† Connecting Logs†††††††††† 9 (15 first quarter)


The total points for each quarter will equal 75-100. So each point counts.


††††††††††† In this class, EVERYTHING counts. We want you to learn and enjoy exploring new ideas and new methods of discussion and thinking. We hope Senior Seminar will be a learning adventure for you---one that will never end.