Revolutionary Women: Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley


Throughout our study of the literature of the American Revolution we have been primarily reading the texts of the founding fathers and other men of the period. However, women played an important role in the founding of our country and contributed greatly to its literature and political texts. One woman that made significant contributions to the arts was Phillis Wheatley.


Brought from Africa on the slave trade, Phillis Wheatley was given a formal education by her masters, and went on to write some of the most beautiful poetry of early America. Hidden in her poems were a celebration of her faith and a criticism of the institution of slavery in America.

In class today we began analyzing her poem ‘On Being Brought from Africa to America’. Please watch the video below of this analysis if you need to review!

Click here to access the poem.


We will be exploring the following questions about Wheatley’s poem in class – remember, our ‘how’ and ‘why‘ questions are the important ones to consider!

  • What is her overall tone in the poem?
  • How does she establish that tone?
  • What symbols and/or metaphors did she use throughout the poem?
  • How did she use symbols and/or metaphors effectively to give her poem multiple meanings or ‘layers’?
  • How would you describe the theme of the poem?

This is the fourth poem we have analyzed and annotated together or in small group – you will have to work with a poem on your own for this unit test. Please make sure you are practicing and becoming comfortable with close reading and analysis!

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

The Declaration of Independence

We are examining our founding document – an amazing piece of text that brought us to where we are today, and inspired other nations to declare those own free and independent states.

The original Declaration of Independence, ink on parchment. It has been damaged by light and improper storage, and the text has almost faded completely over the past 241 years.

A facsimile copy of The Declaration of Independence, struck in the 19th century. Copies, posters and prints of the document are made from this copy, not the original.


Click here to view the real Declaration of Independence at the National Archive.

As we read, analyze and discuss this document please remember that we are looking at not only its importance historically but also its use of effective syntax, and its rhetorical appeals.

Please see the videos below over the history of the document and a performance of the Declaration.







Today we also learned how to take DoodleNotes, using The Declaration as an example. Please click here to access the notes.

As we analyze the text, remember to look for the appeals to rhetoric and be able to explain how the syntax of the document make its more effective.

The text of the Declaration can be divided into four sections–the introduction, the preamble, the list of grievances, and the conclusion.  Please see the resources below to help you as we analyze this document in small groups, including the declaration itself, vocabulary from the document that may give you trouble, and your instructions for analysis with your group. 

Please see the breakdown you complete of the DOI as a class in the images below – you can click on them to open the full size image:

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Structuring a Successful Argument

Imagine you are having an argument with your siblings – who should get the car Friday night? You each want to convince your parents that you are the most deserving child – but how? If you just yell at your sibling the whole time, you won’t look very mature or credible. You’ve helped around the house all week and you have good grades, shouldn’t you bring that up? Plus, its your friend’s birthday party and their dad is going to be relocated to a different base soon – you won’t be together for their next birthday. How do you present all of this information so that you win the argument and get the car?

Know how to structure argument is useful for many reasons – for real life arguments and debates over issues big and small, in writing your own arguments and in reading and analyzing the arguments of others.

The first thing you want to consider is what is your point – what is your claim? This will be the stance or position you take on the given topic or situation.

Next, what evidence do you have to support your claim? What do you have to ‘back up’ what you’re saying?

Also, is that evidence reliable, unbiased, and balanced (ethos/pathos/logos)? If its not trustworthy, why should we listen to it? If you don’t use all three rhetorical appeals, how can we know/trust/feel for you?

Finally, do you acknowledge your opponent? Remember, you are having an argument – if you don’t talk about your opponent’s point, you’re not really arguing, you’re just informing me on your own ideas and position.

Let’s review the elements of an argument and how to organize your argument-


Remember, your arguments will be assessed using the rubric – please click here to view it and please be sure to review the rubric before submitting your final essays!

Your 1st essay topic will use the resources from Patrick Henry and Joseph Galloway’s speech – your prompt is “Whose side would you support – the Loyalist or the Colonist, Joseph Galloway or Patrick Henry – in the Revolution? 


11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

“Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death” by Patrick Henry and Joseph Galloway’s “Address to the Continental Congress”

The faces that these guys are pulling are PRICELESS.

The faces that these guys are pulling on Henry are PRICELESS.

As we read two of the most important and powerful texts in the Revolutionary Period – Patrick Henry’s “Speech to the Virginia Convention” and Joseph Galloway’s “Address to the Contintential Congress” you will be practicing analyzing rhetoric through the SOAPSTone PLUS method.  As we read through the texts together in class and discuss the use of rhetorical questions and extended metaphor, but sure to add our discussion to your analysis worksheet. You will also need these notes for the argumentative essay later this week.

Be sure to review the videos below from class today on Patrick Henry’s background, and the performance of his speech, if you were unable to get all of the notes:

Additionally, click here to access Henry’s speech if you have misplaced your copy, and click here to access the in-depth analysis packet you will be creating with your groups.

For my ESOL students, click here for a copy of the speech with explanations in the margins. 

Please see the video below for the notes over Galloway

And click here to access his speech if you misplaced you copy.

Finally, we analyzed and compared Henry and Galloway’s roles as Patriots and Loyalist in class, as well as completing a SOAPSTone over them – see the image below for our comparison notes.


Finally, you each summarized the main idea of each of the paragraphs in Galloway’s speech – see the images below for your summaries.

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Revolutionary Literature

As we transition from literature of the Puritan period to literature of the American Revolution, it is important for you to understand that history and its accompanying literature transition SLOWLY – the colonist did not simply wake up one day and realize ‘Hey, we’re in a new literary time period! Let’s change our writing style and beliefs overnight!’. We began to see the slow shift from theocratic colonies governed by religion to a more secular, democratic society with civil courts. Below you will find our notes from class outlining what exactly happened to transition the ideas of the Puritan period to the ideas of the Revolutionary period. Additionally, you will also find a complete list of ideas, concepts, beliefs and characteristics of the Revolutionary period that you may refer to throughout this unit.


Common Beliefs

  1. Faith in natural goodness – a human is born without taint or sin
  2. Perfectibility of a human being – it is possible to improve situations of birth, economy, society, and religion
  3. The power of reason 
  4. The attitude of helping everyone
  5. Outdated social institutions cause unsociable behavior – religious, social, economic, and political institutions, which have not modernized, force individuals into unacceptable behavior (in response to the Great Awakening and the Salem Witch trials)

Functions of the Writers of this Period

  1. A searching inquiry in all aspects of the world around
  2. Interest in the classics as well as in the Bible
  3. Interest in nature
  4. Interest in science and scientific experiments
  5. Optimism – experiments in Utopian communities
  6. Sense of a person’s duty to succeed
  7. Constant search of the self – emphasis on individualism


(*note: the end of the above video covers Revolutionary literature)

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Sinners In The Hands of An Angry God – Johnathan Edwards

lordian guard portada

As we move into ‘The Great Awakening’ in our study of American Literature, we will be analyzing the rhetorical power of Edward’s famous sermon, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God”. Edward’s use of startling imagery and terrifying depictions of the wrath of God are shocking even for today’s modern audience, but would have been absolutely terrifying to the members of his congregation during his own time period.

Below you will find a brief video with background information on Edwards that YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY WATCH FIRST, follow by a PDF of the Sermon and the audio to the sermon. Download the PDF and follow along as you listen to the Youtube video of the sermon… make notes of the rhetoric Edward’s uses. You can use the SOAPSTone Plus method we learned in class for this:

As we begin to examine an author’s use of rhetoric to achieve a specific purpose remember that this will be a huge part of AP Language next semester! That means you need to practice the method of SOAPSTone Plus. Begin practicing the SOAPSTone Plus analysis method – you will use it from now on!


After you have become comfortable with just finding the use of these rhetorical devices, you can begin analyzing texts in the Arch Method. This will streamline you note taking over your analysis, and can be a life saver during the timed Rhetorical Analysis essay on the AP Language and Composition Exam. Below you can find a sample of the Arch Method process, as well as an example of how to conduct the Arch Method Analysis with Mary Rowlandson’s “A Narrative of the Captivity”.

 Arch Method Arch Method Rowlandson

*Click on the images for an enlarged view

Click here for “Sinners In the Hands of An Angry God.”

And finally, click here for the full audio of his sermon. 


Can’t wait to discuss this with you tomorrow! 🙂


11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Anne Bradstreet Poetry Analysis and Video Notes



Anne Bradstreet – and some ducks.

Please see the video below for the notes over Anne Bradstreet that you will need for class. Remember to keep in mind the differences between the use of literary devices and emotional appeals in Bradstreet’s poetry, as you’ll have to compare it to Johnathan Edwards’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” at some point this week!

As we analyze ‘The My Dear and Loving Husband’, but sure to pay attention to how Bradstreet always manages to connect her expressions of humanity and worldliness with her pious beliefs. Also, be sure to know the significance behind many of her allusions! If you need a refresher on how to annotate and analyze a text, see our handout from class here. 

see our handout from class here. 


11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Narrative Writing

In addition to writing academic essays you also need to practice crafting interesting stories through narrative. Being comfortable using the elements of narrative writing not only makes it easier to read and understand narrative choices an author makes in the stories we read in class, but it can also be a useful tool to spice up your academic writing as well.

Remember, there are key elements we’ve covered in class for narrative writing. These include:

  • Having multiple characters that interact or speak with each other.
  • Using descriptive language that appeals to the senses.
  • Using dialogue – either internal or external (and formatting it correctly!)
  • Making the setting, POV and plot clear to the reader.
  • Having a thematic conclusion.

Many of you have had difficultly with the thematic conclusion – let’s review how to do this in the video below from class:

Consider this – will you be able to complete all of these points in just a few sentences? No. You will need to make sure your narrative is adequately developed. Let’s look at the examples below:

Sample 1

This samples scored a 1/4 – what elements can you see are missing?



Sample 2

This samples scored a 3/4 – do you see how it includes dialogue and description? Despite formatting and grammatical errors, the development and use of elements was still solid.



Sample 3

This samples scored a 4/4. The student has clear characters, dialogue, description, and a plot. The story is developed in three short paragraphs, and has a conclusion.


Remember, I will be assessing your writing with the same rubric the state will use.

Please click here to access the rubric.


You also will need to track your own progress on these writing – please be sure to look back at your growth and take note of which elements you are improving on – you can make sure to repeat that performance in the future! Click here to access your tracking chart for class.

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Native American Oral Tradition

SachemThe native people of this land did not pass their stories down through books and letters, but rather through the sharing and memorizing of stories by word-of-mouth, also know as the oral tradition. Native American tribes across the Americas had a rich tradition of storytelling that served to explain the natural world around them, define their relationship with nature, and record and remember their tribal history. Interestingly, it was the role of the women in the tribes to preserve this history, tell these stories, and pass this knowledge down to the next generation of the tribe.

As we begin our study of American Literature, we will start with the traditions of this country’s native people and discuss how their traditions fit into the larger context of global literary traditions, and examine how their literary and oral traditions were affected, changed, and unfortunately in many cases, eradicated by the influx of explorers and settlers.

We will be reading three creation stories –Click here to access the Native American Creation Myths

Additionally, the video below provide an overview of the literary oral tradition of the Native Americans. We will be taking notes over this in class, and you may re-watch the video as many times as needed below:

While watching this video you need to practice the Cornell Note-taking methods we reviewed in class today. If you forgot how to do this, please see the post on how to take these notes.

Click here to access the example notes over Native American Literary Tradition in the Cornell Note style.

Also, remember that we’re not just examining the oral tradition of the Native Americans, but also how their storytelling tradition fits into the larger context of literature. You should hopefully remember your study of archetypes from 9th grade, but in case you have forgotten please visit the link below to view a Prezi I have put together for you to review.

Click here to view the Prezi on Archetypes.

As you review the story, be sure to answer the question: How does ‘The Earth on the Turtle’s Back’ represent the themes of Native American storytelling?

Also, be sure to consider how the settings (Skyland, The Great Tree, Earth as a lush land of plants and animals) and characters (The Great Chief, the pregnant Wife, the Muskrat and all the other animals) are archetypes.

Please click here to access the Cornell Notes we took together over the creation myths ‘The Navajo Legend’ and ‘When Grizzles Stood Upright’. 

In class we reviewed and practiced how to write concise summaries of texts – this is an important skill for discussion, for review and studying and for comprehension.

Please click here to review the handout over writing quality summaries.

We practiced summarizing the creation stories “The Earth on the Turtle’s Back” and “When Grizzlies Walked Upright”, as well as summarizing how the themes of Native American creation stories were present in each of them.


11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Pre-Colonial: Native Americans Prior to European Settlement

We’re starting out this semester by looking at the very beginning of American culture – Native American culture.

In class we discussed the stereotypes and preconceptions we have about Native Americans and their culture, as well as our perceptions of the first interactions between explorers and the Native people. You pointed out that it seems, in the stories you’ve read prior, that Natives we either described as helpful and kind (Pochahontas, Squanto, Sacagawea, The First Thanksgiving) or savage and violent (savages, scalping, Sioux warriors). You also discussed how perceptions of the Native people of America are limited to images of teepees, tomahawks, headdresses, buffaloes and buckskins. A part of this course is to read the voices of past Americans and understand how all of these come together to create the great country we live in today. Over the course of the semester we will continually revisit the voice of Native Americans and how they contribute to the melting pot of America.

First, we watched a brief video discussing the rich history of the Native people of America prior to European settlement – a 14,000 year old culture, with lots of diversity, innovations and history.

We then read a brief excerpt from a 1560’s explorer’s journal title ‘De Orbo Novo’. In this journal we examine the author’s use of figurative language and descriptive, and discussed how the purpose was to highlight and celebrate the diversity of skincolors, flora, and fauna in the New World.

Please click here to access your copy of ‘De Orbo Novo’. 

Next, we examined the ancient city of Cahokia – a massive metropolitan Native American city in what is now Missouri. We discussed the difference between primary and secondary and tertiary sources, pointing out that our journal excerpt ‘De Orbo Novo’ would be a primary source document, but the article about Cahokia would be a secondary source document.

Click here to access your article about Cahokia.

In the article over Cahokia, we learn about the complexity of their social systems, class system, architecture, trade and religion. In our class discussion we highlighted ways that life at Cahokia differed from our preconceived ideas, and practices good traits of active listeners and communicators. You also wrote a constructed response to the questions associated with the article, practicing citing textual evidence.

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019