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.




Mrs Pierce Recommends

Primary Source Outside Readings

Primary source documents are those which were written or created during the time period being studied – not at a later date, or 2nd hand accounts.

As we are tasked with studying the entirety of American literary history in roughly 17 weeks, there will obviously (and to my great dismay) be MANY things we do not get to read together. To try and address this without over-burdening you with entire novels to read outside of class, I have put together a packet of primary source documents for each of the units we will be covering. Sometimes I may assign readings from this packet, but often I will simply provide it to you so that you can continue your studies of American literary history on your own. These texts will also provide you with a great deal of historical context for the other readings we will be completing in class.

I will be providing discussion questions each unit based on readings in this packet, posted to our Google Classroom, and a response and discussion with your classmates over these questions can potentially earn you 5 bonus points on your unit test.

Honors American Literature Primary Source Packets:

Explorers and Early Settlers


11th Grade American Literature Fall 2017

Outside Reading – The Scarlet Letter


For the 1st nine weeks our outside reading will be Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”. As you read this text on your own be sure to consider that it is an early Romantic piece – this means that issues we are exploring during the Expansionist period will still be prevalent in it’s pages. Additionally, you will need to consider that Hawthorne’s ancestor was Judge Hathorne of the Salem Witch Trails, and his feels about his family’s past involvement in this dark period of early American history is a motivating factor for the novel.

As you read chapters 1-9 prior to September 30, be sure to consider how the expansionist issues below appear in the text:

  • An awareness of the past.
  • The relationship with the Native Americans.
  • A longing for a less mechanized way of life.

Additionally, important themes, symbols of motifs of the story you should be noting are:

  • The individual’s place in society, and their identity through society.
  • Isolation
  • Man/Civilization vs Nature
  • The Role of Women and Femininity
  • Justice and Revenge
  • Hypocrisy
  • Sin and Forgiveness
  • The Supernatural
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • Dimmsdale’s red mark
  • The Meteor
  • Pearl
  • The Black Man
  • The Forest

Remember to review the previous post of Socratic Seminars before Wednesday – you must ask the three types of questions required to get extra credit!

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2015

A Cornucopia of Historical Spotlights – Contextualizing Literature of The American Revolution

As we (quickly!) make our way through the literature of the American Revolution, I wanted to be sure to provide you with as much fun historical context as possible. While I know that you all have been learning about American history, and literary history, since elementary school I thought it would be interesting to dispel some of the myths you’ve been told, and to shine a little light on topics frequently looked over. Please browse the selection of podcasts below over the course of the week – these will add a lot of historical context to your text analysis and essays, will increase your general knowledge  (which will come in handy for the AP exam!) and will also help you in the next unit over Expansionist literature. I will also be adding a bonus section to your exam, just over these podcasts! Enjoy!


The Boston Massacre

  • A look at the distinctive un-massacre-y-ness of the Boston massacre. If asked the questions, “How many people do you think died in the Boston Massacre?” many people will guess a number of twenty or more. The reality was much smaller, and the massacre moniker exists today because of some very determined colonial spin doctoring.

13 Causes for the American Revolution

  • “No taxation without representation” is often thought of as the main beef that led to the American Revolution, but it was only one of many moving parts in the bigger picture.

James Armistead – Revolutionary Spy

  • James Armistead was a slave in Virginia, but got his master’s approval to enlist when the Revolutionary War came. Armistead worked as a spy, and his story is one of many free and enslaved African-Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War.

Did Betsy Ross Really Make the First American Flag?

  • Did Betsy Ross really make the first American flag, or is this just another revolutionary legend? Learn the myths and facts about Betsy Ross and the first American flag in this podcast


  • Often described as mercenaries who fought for Britain during the American Revolution, the Hessians were really auxiliary troops who fought for lots of governments in lots of military actions (and they weren’t all from Hesse-Kassel). Today’s episode takes us through how German principalities got into the business of armies for hire in the first place, why Britain needed these troops during the American Revolution, and the most famous altercation between the colonists and the Hessians during the Revolutionary War.

How Thomas Jefferson Worked

  • Thomas Jefferson’s life was peppered with accomplishments — but what about the disparity between his public image and private life?

How Thomas Jefferson’s Bible Worked

  • Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers, was a very unorthodox thinker. His revision of the Bible was one of his most controversial projects – listen to the podcast to find out why!
11th Grade American Literature Fall 2015

EXTRA CREDIT OPPORTUNITY : “Socrates and Scones Wednesdays”

Look at how excited and awe-struck these guys are over Socrates and his floating scones - just think, you could be this excited too!

Look at how excited and awe-struck these guys are over Socrates and his floating scones – just think, you could be this excited too!

Throughout the course you will be required to complete readings outside of class – there is simply too much of American Literature that you need to be exposed to for us to cover in class together all the time. These readings will be amazingly beneficial to you – the more you read the more your writing will improve (which is vital for this class, AP Lang, and college), the more you read the more you will be prepared for AP Literature, and you NEVER KNOW what kind of questions you will see on the AP Exam – the more texts you read the better chance you have of being able to answer the exam essay questions correctly!

Instead of simply assigning you outside readings and more work, as I know you are all already overwhelmed with school work and extracurriculars at the moment, I am going to instead institute and bi-weekly meeting of “Socrates and Scones”. Every two weeks we will meet in B10 after school for hot tea, scones and Socratic Seminar discussions over the outside reading for that month. This is an opportunity to talk to me and your classmates (and eat delicious baked goods) about the outside readings you will be completing and to practice Socratic Seminar discussion (which will be a HUGE part of AP Lang next semester).

None of these meetings will negatively affect your grade – you will not receive ‘homework’ over the reading, and you will only have to complete a few short reading check quizzes over the outside text within 30 days of the text being assigned.

However, for those of you that come to the meetings and participate in the correct Socratic way, I am offering that all elusive EXTRA CREDIT. We will have four meetings – for students that attend ALL FOUR MEETINGS and participate as outlined below, you will receive TWO POINTS to your FINAL GRADE (if you have an 88, you’ll have a 90).

How should you participate in these Socrates and Scones discussions?


I will also be checking that you ask Literal, Evaluative and Interpretive questions during the discussion – if you’re not sure what those are, click here and look on page 4 for an explanation.

This is a great opportunity to build your analysis and communication skills, bond with your classmates, and prepare for college. I really hope to see you guys at our meetings!

The outside reading for September/October will be The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Our first Socrates and Scones meeting will be September 30th, 2015 at 3:30pm in B10. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: After discussion with students, it was determined that the meetings will be placed on Wednesdays because this is the day that the majority of you can meet or do not have ‘required’ practices. I am also only having the meetings every two weeks so that you can prepare by reading the text and securing rides home. This is not a required meeting – it is simply there to help you with the readings and give you some extra preparation for next semester. If you want the extra credit you will have to attend all four meetings – I cannot make an exception for every student who has other obligations, as this is not a required assignment.  Though meeting with me one on one will not earn you the extra credit points, you know I am more than happy to meet with any of you for any reason as long as you give me a days notice.

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2015