The History of Halloween Candy

For your extra credit this unit I’m going to ‘treat’ you by providing a more modern topic…get it? Treat? (its a pun!)

Halloween has been around in many iterations for quiet a while in history, but Halloween candy is a fairly new caveat to the holiday. I would like to you listen to how this sweet addition to the holiday got started and how it has changed in the past 100 years.


Your discussion of this topic will ask you to refer back to our discussion of Emerson’s philosophy of ‘Circles’ to hypothesize about how American cultural traditions change! 🙂 Please see our GoogleClassroom for the discussion prompt.

Click here to listen to the episode.




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Spotlight on Historical Context – Creating A Transcendentalist Utopia

If it weren’t for the Transcendentalist, the summer of 1969 and the Hippie Communes of the 1970’s may have never happened – the idea of communal living and finding a ‘heaven on earth’ didn’t start in the 20th century, but way back in the 1840’s.

In the 1840s, Boston’s West Roxbury suburb — which was completely rural at the time — was home to an experiment in transcendentalist utopian living: the Brook Farm community. The idea was to create an environment of balance and equality. But as is often the case when a group of people unprepared for the realities of living off the land try to live off the land, the Brook Farm Community wasn’t a completely successful endeavor. Many famous Transcendentalist are connected to Brook Farm – Nathaniel Hawthorne lived there, and Emerson was invited on multiple occasions. Additionally, many of the women at Brookfarm were able to experience more personal freedoms than they had at any other point in their lives, contributing to the first wave of Feminism and the Women’s Suffrage Movement that was taking off in America.

Click here to listen to the podcast about the Brook Farm Community – A Transcendental Heaven on Earth

0520417cc1f0f804f082843ee3a6dacdIn addition to Brookfarm, there was also Fruitland, the community start by educational reformer and Transcendentalist Bronson Alcott. That name may be familiar as his daughter, Louisa May Alcott, is a famous Transcendentalist herself and author of the novel Little Women. The Alcott family lived in Concord, Massachusetts and was connected to many of the most famous Transcendentalist of the day – Hawthorne was good friends with Bronson, and bailed him out of debt on many occasions; Louisa was neighbors with Emerson, and would visit Thoreau at his cabin on Walden Pond, bringing him fresh wildflowers. The Alcott’s serve as a reminder that the Transcendental movements brought new ideas not just about scholarship and philosophy, but also education, slavery and women’s rights.

Click here to listen to the podcast on Bronson Alcott

And click here to listen to the podcast on Louisa May Alcott

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Setting SMART Goals for Success


Each unit this semester I will be asking you to reflect on your progress and create two goals for yourself – I will be setting two goals for all of you, but I’d like you to brainstorm the rest.

These goals should be relevant to your experience in this class – please don’t set goals for Math (I won’t be able to guide and help you achieve those)…these goals should focus on your use of language, communication, writing, analysis skills, or even general academic goals such as improving your time management, finding a more effective way to study, avoiding procrastination, ect.

You’ll be keeping track of these goals, setting a plan of action, and revisiting to reflect on your progress in each unit.

Please click here to access your goal setting sheet if you lost yours, and review the notes below about how to set SMART goals! 




Specific: – A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:

*Who:  *What:  *Where:  *When:  *Which:  *Why

Specific means reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

EXAMPLE: A general goal would be, “I want to lose some weight.” A specific goal would be, “I want to lose 10 pounds in 2 months and I will eat properly and exercise at least 3 days a week to accomplish my goal.”


Measurable: – Establish criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.

Describes how each goal will be measured (numeric or descriptive).

When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued the effort required to reach your goal.

Ask yourself:

  • How will I know when the result has been achieved?
  • How will I verify the achievement/performance of this goal?


Attainable: – When you identify a goal, write it out and make a plan, you are making an attainable goal. You will see opportunities arise that will help you in accomplishing this goal. You will develop a positive attitude working towards an attainable goal and you will develop traits that will give you the strength to see it through.

Realistic: – To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.

In my book there are no Dreams or Goals too grand, but you do have to be realistic. Make sure the goal you have set is something you are willing and capable of doing. When you set a lofty goal and challenge yourself you will find the reward that much better

Timely: – Creates a sense of urgency. Knowing you have to accomplish a task at a certain time makes you accountable. Know what those time lines are. What needs to be done by when. How much needs to be saved by when and take the steps necessary to meet those timelines.


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Mrs. Pierce Recommends: Learning about Cannibalism at Jamestown and the Lost Roanoke Colony!

In an effort to provide you guys with additional historical context outside of class that DOESN’T require even more reading, I thought you would enjoy listening to these short episodes from the podcast ‘Stuff You Missed In History Class’. Remember, the best way to achieve a higher score on the AP Exam, to become a better writer and a more skilled analyzer of literature is to BUILD MORE KNOWLEDGE. The ‘Mrs. Pierce Recommends’ posts throughout the semester will point you in the direction of interactive, entertaining ways of learning more about American History and Literature, note and study techniques, and ways to de-stress and be happy! While you will not be directly quizzed on these podcasts, they will add a certain amount of depth to the analysis you are able to conduct on the assigned readings, and therefore could involuntarily improve your writing and grade! Enjoy!


Click here to listen to the podcast of “What Happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke?”

  • In 1587, English colonists in Roanoke mysteriously disappeared, leaving only a few cryptic clues behind. For centuries since, researchers have wondered what became of the lost colonists.


Click here to listen to the podcast of “Cannibalism at Jamestown”

  • As winter fell at the end of 1609, the settlers in Jamestown, Virginia, found themselves in dire straits. A powerful hurricane had all but destroyed a fleet of ships carrying provisions from England, leaving the colonial fort with a depleted food supply. Outside the walls, the Powhatan Indians had declared war and were laying siege to the fort, trapping the 300 settlers inside. Out of food and unable to forage, the desperate settlers ate horses, dogs, rats, and snakes. As winter dragged on, they turned to an even more unorthodox source of food: Today, scientists revealed the first physical evidence that the starving colonists at Jamestown ate their dead.
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Mrs. Pierce Recommends – Finding a Quiet Place

I know that MANY of you, especially my AP students, are VERY stressed out this week! It has officially been a month back at school since Christmas break, progress reports go out Friday, and the ease and relaxation of the holiday season is officially gone. gone. gone.

I know. Teachers get stressed too! But I have been worried by just HOW stressed you all seem to be this week – so my recommendation is for you to take at least 5 minutes a day to just sit. in. silence. Relax. Meditate. Pray. Get into your ‘zone’ and leave everything else behind for 5 minutes. Turn off your cell phone (gasp!), get in a comfy place, and disconnect for five minutes. You’ll feel better, and whatever homework or Twitter notification you are stepping away from for those five minutes will be there when you return, I promise.

There are a lot of great website and apps you guys can use to help you de-stress and disconnect, if you just can’t seem to do it without your cellphone in your hand…

  1. The Quiet Place Project – it takes 2 minutes! Try it!
  2. The Headspace App – a great app for your phone that leads you through guided meditation.

It’s only January, and we still have a whole semester ahead of us kids – so be proactive and begin de-stressing regularly so you can get through the semester more easily! 🙂



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Mrs. Pierce Recommends: Look up and Appreciate!

As we make our way steadily into December, the holiday season and the end of the 1st semester, be sure to stop and take a moment to step away from the hustle, bustle and stress to appreciate the small, beautiful things around you!

Luckily for you guys, this is a very simple activity to do – simple look up before you come into the building or leave to go home each day. Our campus is beautiful, and the views that cap the beginning and end of our school day are quiet spectacular! Please be sure to pause for a moment this week and enjoy the simple, beautiful things all around you! 🙂








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Mrs. Pierce Recommends… Getting Plenty of Sleep.

With EOC State Testing taking place this week, the hustle and bustle of the last week of school approaching, and final exams next week, please be sure that you are getting enough sleep! Remember, we will still be learning lots of new information over the next few days and without quality sleep you guys will more than likely miss something or have difficultly studying and remember this new content! 7 hours is key – 8 is even better – so get to bed early and get some ZZzzzZzzzs!!


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