Socratic Seminar #2: The Crucible

On Monday, we will conduct our second Socratic Seminar! Since you’ve done this before, this time should feel a bit more comfortable.

You may use all of the analysis questions you have answered for each act, but you must also answer two of the essential questions below (your choice).

Everyone must answer #10: Who has the right to determine morality? Is morality something entirely socially constructed?

Choose two from the list below to construct a response to — ensure your response points to direct text evidence!

  1. How do various characters manipulate language to achieve their purposes? What are these purposes? Think of rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, logos), but be specific about these appeals. For example, instead of stating, “The character uses ethos to…” write something more specific: “Edwards appeals to his audience’s desire for salvation to…” (This is a much more specific phrasing of “pathos.”)
  2. How do the events in the story connect to Miller’s larger criticism of and allegory on McCarthyism? Point to evidence from the text to support your view.
  3. How do gender, race, socioeconomic status and title factor into the actions and events of the play?
  4. A crucible is defined as “a vessel or melting pot” or “a test of the most decisive kind.” How are these definitions appropriate to this story and its events?
  5. Many characters rely on or are victim to logical fallacies (errors in logic). Examine some of the logical fallacies present. What do they assume? What could Miller’s purpose be in incorporating these errors in logic in his characters? Think about the possible purposes within the text and within Miller’s society.
  6. In an article from Psychology Today, Shahram Heshmat, Ph.D., describes the psychological concept of confirmation bias: “When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true. Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring, or rejecting, information that casts doubt on it. Confirmation bias suggests that we don’t perceive circumstances objectively. We pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our prejudices. Thus, we may become prisoners of our assumptions.” Review our readings of The Crucible. How does the concept of confirmation bias surface in this text? How does it motivate characters and shape their worldviews?
  7. What are the benefits and drawbacks of pride? What different types of pride are there?
  8. How does one’s reputation influence one’s actions and decision-making?
  9. How does groupthink and scapegoating still pervade our society? Point to examples in the text, and then connect these events to modern day examples or other examples in history.
  10. Who has the right to determine morality? Is morality something entirely socially constructed?

Like last time, your responses must be completed BEFORE CLASS in order to participate in the Socratic Seminar. Failure to do so will result in a grade penalty.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Good morning and thank you for being on your best behavior while I am out today! 🙂

Please assign yourselves reading roles and continue reading Act II; yesterday, we left off at the top of page 63.

  • Since I’m not there to be stage director, we will need someone to cover for me!
  • Steven has called Ezekiel Cheever, since we didn’t get to him on Thursday.

Please use your bookmark to mark where you leave off so we can discuss on Monday when we return. You have nothing to turn in today, but you and your classmates should read all class period, as you have been doing so wonderfully. Put on a show for your sub, Ms. Isaac-Spivey! 🙂

Reading note: When Reverend Hale is questioning John and Elizabeth in their home, this is called a catechism. The denotation of catechism Is “a series of fixed questions, answers, or precepts used for instruction in other situations.” In this case, he is questioning the Christian character of their home; in other words, judging just how “Puritan” they really are.


  • AP Classroom is due by Sunday at 11:45pm!
  • Please make sure your permission forms for the field trip are completed by a parent or guardian!

Have a WONDERFUL weekend and have a BLAST at Homecoming (and be safe)!

Rhetorical Analysis Evaluation

Welcome back from Fall Break! I hope you had some time to unplug and unwind a bit. We will be moving on from rhetorical analysis to argument and synthesis during this unit, so let’s take some time to reflect and evaluate our RA practices so far.

Today, you will need your Rachel Carson FRQ from before the break (book excerpt about parathion).

  1. Read over your rhetorical analysis. Using the Scoring Guidelines sheet, assign yourself an honest grade 1-9. In two or three sentences, explain why you have yourself that grade.
  2. In your groups, read over each of the released FRQs from past students. Grade each one using the Scoring Guidelines — you must come to a consensus as a group! On one sheet of paper, please provide a few bullet points of what the writer did well.
  3. We will review the scores as a class.
  4. Evaluate: What makes a “good” rhetorical analysis “good”? In a bullet list, please provide what makes an effective RA essay effective on this Padlet:

Socratic Seminar and HOT (Higher-Order Thinking) Questions

A Socratic Seminar (named after Socrates) is a deep discourse led by questioning. You will engage in one as an assessment over Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. You will prepare your thoughts on several different questions, and the Seminar will take up the entire period.

Why Do Socratic Seminars?

  • To think out loud and share our valid voices
  • To share ideas
  • To investigate what we may not get to talk about in a traditional assessment
  • To reflect on the way things are or the way they could be
  • To learn from each other
  • To engage in academic discourse
  • To use vocabulary more precisely
  • To discover the power of many minds at work
  • To change our minds

Guidelines and Norms for the Socratic Seminar:

  • Listen carefully! This is crucial. Much of your grade is based on your ability to listen and respond to what was just said.
  • Be respectful! Sit up straight in your seat. Use names when addressing another student. Raise your hand to speak. If you notice someone is not participating, you may call on them to get them active in the seminar. Do this by calling the student by name and stating your opinion first so the student has something about which to react. Everyone will have a nameplate.
  • Speak loudly and clearly.
  • Take turns speaking. You cannot call on the same person who called on you. If you disagree with a something someone said, do so in a thoughtful, appropriate manner. Ask questions without attacking, and disagree with ideas, not people. Ask people to explain what they mean. There are no right or wrong answers.
    • Don’t worry if the conversation takes a different direction. When a discussion of a particular question seems to have ended and no one has anything to say, any student may ask, “Are we done?” and/or “Shall we move on to another question?”
  • Refer to your copy of A Raisin in the Sun when necessary. A seminar is not a test of memory. You are not learning a subject; you are aiming at understanding ideas and issues.
  • Don’t look at Ms. Antonacci. Discourse is for you, the students. You are teaching each other! Ms. A. will only intervene when absolutely necessary.

Seminar Preparation:

Using the essential questions below, prepare responses to four of them on note cards. You will likely need several note cards. Make a point on the front of the note card and put your proof on the back. All points must be backed up with proof in the forms of text, research, packet information, etc. Label your proof so that you can direct the other seminar members where to find it (i.e. Act II, scene 1).

Seminar Essential Questions:

  1. What is Hansberry’s ultimate message regarding the dreams of African-Americans? To what degree does this message resonate today?
  2. To what extent do you think Hansberry is critiquing traditional gender roles in the play?
  3. Why do you think Lena changes her mind and gives Walter the responsibility of handling the money? Regardless of Walter’s subsequent actions, was this a smart decision?
  4. Compare the personalities of Walter, George Murchison, and Asagai; how they different? Are they at all similar? How do they represent different archetypes of the “black man”?
  5. The play takes its names from a well-known Langston Hughes poem, “Harlem,” which is printed at the beginning of the play. Explain the connection between these two works of literature.
  6. What external factors hindered, or may have hindered, the Youngers’ achievement of their respective dreams? How do faith and family help the Youngers to move beyond those external obstacles?
  7. How do the different characters in A Raisin in the Sun think about identity? How do the different characters think about heritage as an aspect of identity?
  8. Come up with TWO of YOUR OWN QUESTIONS to use during the seminar. It must be open-ended and text-dependent; i.e., it can be answered in many ways and can be backed up with text. Please refer to the handout provided in class for question stems.

****Please note that in order to participate in the Socratic Seminar, you must have your questions and responses completed BEFORE the Seminar. Failure to do so will result in a grade penalty.

Writing Thematic Statements

Writing Thematic Statements

Theme is the central message of a literary work. It is not the same as a subject, which can be expressed in a word or two: courage, survival, war, pride, etc. The theme is the idea the author wishes to convey about that subject. It is expressed as a sentence or general statement about life or human nature. A literary work can have more than one theme, and most themes are not directly stated but are implied. The reader must think about all the elements of the work and use them to make inferences, or reasonable guesses, as to which themes seem to be implied.” (from Laying the Foundation series of books published by AP Strategies in Dallas)

For example, if love is a topic/subject of two novels, a major theme in one of the novels could be “Love, if taken to extremes, can be negative rather than positive,” while in the other novel, the theme might be “Love can conquer even the greatest evil.” Notice that the topic/subject is the same, but the messages about that topic/subject are different in different works.

Consider this:

A theme is a meaning of a work. (Yes, there can be more than one “meaning.”) Can the meaning of a work be love? hate? greed? No—that makes no sense! Those are just topics, not themes. The theme is the statement an author is making about a topic.

Stating the theme of a work of literature

  • Begin by using several abstract words to state the principal ideas of the work (topics that the piece is really about). Abstract words describe concepts or ideas that exist only in our minds like alienation, prejudice, ambition, freedom, love, loyalty, passion, etc.
    For this assignment, you will
  • Combine those abstract ideas with comments that reflect the author’s observations about human nature, the human condition, or human motivation. In other words, what is the author saying about the abstract idea? Is he/she, for example, saying something about the qualities of people and/or commenting on society?

  • A theme is NOT a moral, a directive, or an order. A moral/directive/order tells us how to behave or what to do. A theme observes, weighs, and considers actions and ideas, but it avoids judging what people should or should not do; therefore, words like “should” and “ought” are not appropriate in a thematic statement. Also not appropriate is an order/directive such as “Be nice to elderly people” or “Love like there’s no tomorrow.”
  • Themes are NOT trite sayings (clichés, maxims, or aphorisms) such as “Actions speak louder than words,” “Love hurts,” or “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
  • Themes do NOT refer to the specific names or events of a particular literary piece. A theme does not summarize a work, but it does reflect what happens in the work. A theme drops character names and uses more general terms like “parents,” “leaders,” “society,” or “young people” in a general observation about the human experience.
  • Themes avoid absolute terms such as “all,” “none,” “everything,” or “always” because they indicate sloppy thinking; they are categorical, no exceptions. Terms like “we,” “sometimes,” or “often” suggest a more realistic view of the variety of human experiences.

Writing Thematic Statements

What is Theme? Theme is what a text implies about life or human nature.

A text can have more than one theme.

Theme is the “main” idea of a work; in other words, everything in the text should work together to help communicate that idea. Nothing in the work should logically contradict the theme.

How do I write a thematic statement?

Start by listing some of the topics of the text; for example, alienation, prejudice, ambition, freedom, love, loyalty, passion, etc.). The topic can also be a longer phrase, however, such as the relationship between love and hate.

Combine those topics with comments that reflect the author’s observations about human nature. What is the author saying about those topics? What does the author believe to be true about those topics?

DO…Well-written Statements:
…draw a general insight from a character’s behaviorFriends are not always trustworthy.
…use qualifying words in a thematic statement, such as sometimes, can, may, and oftenPoverty may transform honest people into criminals.
…express the theme as an insight into lifeGossip can cause serious damage to a person’s reputation.
…express the theme in your own wordsEvil deeds are punished in ways you might not expect.
…express the theme as a general comment on a subjectPeople with realistic goals tend to be more successful than those who put little thought into their futures.
DO NOT…Poorly written Statements:
…express the theme as a subject or topicCrime doesn’t pay.
…express the theme as a moralIt’s wrong to gossip about people.
…make a thematic statement too general.
…Avoid broad generalizations with words such as everyone, always, never, and all
Poverty causes crime.
…refer to specific characters in a thematic statementHolden learned not to trust others around him.

Example Thematic Statements:

The Hunger Games: Love can make you care more about others than you do about your own life when put to the test.

Trust: Trust in yourself is just as important as trust in others.

Family: A family supports you even when the rest of the world doubts you.


  • Love taken to extremes can become dangerous.
  • Loving yourself, despite your flaws, can lead to a happier life.

Identity: Your identity isn’t static but grows with you as you discover more about yourself.

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry


Over the last few weeks, you all have been doing a great job analyzing poetry from different perspectives across America. This week, we will start with one more analysis of a Langston Hughes poem before diving in to Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun. Moving forward and especially between now and the September break, please do your best to be on time and present each day. It is particularly difficult to read a play and get caught up by yourself. We will also be discussing a great deal, and you won’t want to miss out!

Click here for a copy of the play.


How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Happy Wednesday! Today’s Writing Wednesday will take up the entire period, as we will have our first full-length rhetorical analysis practice today. Although the College Board suggests 40 minutes per essay, you will have a bit more time, as this is our first practice rhetorical analysis. Please review the information below and use your SOAPSTone chart from “Body Rituals Among the Nacirema” to aid in your writing.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay, from WriteLab

What is a Rhetorical Analysis?

Rhetorical analysis requires you to evaluate the work of another author. You must analyze the author’s purpose, as well as the strategies the author uses to achieve this purpose.

This type of essay is not a summary. You shouldn’t rehash what you read in the article or literary work, and you shouldn’t simply interpret the meaning of the text.

Here’s the bottom line: Instead of explaining what the author writes, you need to explain how the author writes.

How to Read Critically

The first step to writing a rhetorical analysis is reading. Carefully read through the article(s) or literary work(s) you’ve been assigned to determine the main idea of the author’s argument.

After this initial read-through, read the text(s) again—this time analyzing the author’s use of rhetoric.

Guide your analysis with questions like:

  • What is the author’s thesis or overall argument?
  • What is the author’s purpose for writing this particular document, speech, etc.?
  • Who is the author’s target audience?
  • How does the author arrange and connect ideas? Chronologically? Cause and effect? Compare and contrast?
  • Does the author repeat important terms?
  • How does the writer use punctuation? Does she incorporate fragments or run-ons? Are her sentences declarative, exclamatory, or imperative? What effect does this achieve?
  • Does the writer use dialogue and/or quotations? Why?
  • What is the effect of the author’s word choice, tone, and diction? Is the language formal or informal? Does the author use slang or technical terminology?
  • Does the writer use italics, underlining, or parentheses? Why?
  • How does the author use ethos, pathos, and/or logos? Are these appeals effective? Why or why not?

As you consider your answers to these questions, annotate the text or jot down notes on a sheet of scratch paper. And note that this list of questions isn’t exhaustive: If you notice another technique the author is using, be sure to address that as well!

The goal here is to break the text into much smaller elements, then analyze how and why the author incorporated these elements. What effect did the author’s various strategies achieve? Did the author fulfill her purpose?

How to Plan Your Rhetorical Essay

Start by crafting the thesis for your rhetorical analysis. In your thesis, you should briefly mention the author’s purpose and main argument, then list 3 to 4 of the main rhetorical devices the author uses.

What if the author used more than 3 to 4 devices?

Choose the strategies that you feel have the strongest supporting evidence. Look for quotes and examples you can use to prove your point.

For each of the rhetorical strategies you select, you’ll need to gather examples from the text. Consider why the author used this device and the overall effect it achieved. You can also evaluate how effectively you feel the author implemented this strategy.

How to Write Your Rhetorical Analysis | Step-by-Step Tips

Once you’ve planned your essay, it’s time to start writing. Here’s a look at each step in the writing process.


In your intro, provide any necessary background information related to the author or the topics covered by the author.

You also need to include your thesis, referencing the author’s main point or purpose and the rhetorical devices he used to achieve this purpose.

The bulk of your essay should be the body paragraphs, so keep your intro short and sweet.

Body Paragraphs

The easiest way to organize your body paragraphs is to devote one body paragraph to each rhetorical strategy mentioned in your thesis. These paragraphs should appear in the same order in which you listed the rhetorical devices in your thesis.

Each body paragraph needs its own topic sentence that clearly states what rhetorical device will be covered, as well as the device’s overall purpose.

Next, you should provide several examples demonstrating the author’s use of the device. Make sure you also explain how each example illustrates the technique being discussed.

You should then analyze the author’s use of rhetoric:

  • Why did the author choose to use this rhetorical strategy?
  • How does this rhetorical strategy help advance the author’s purpose?
  • What was the overall effect of this rhetorical strategy?


Your conclusion should briefly restate your main points. Connect the rhetorical devices you analyzed throughout the essay, explaining their overall effect on the reader.

In your final sentence, apply your argument on a higher level: Why does it matter? How does it relate to the real world? What’s the importance of the speech or text you analyzed?


Now that you’ve written your conclusion, you’re all done, right? Not so fast—it’s essential to devote some time to revising and editing your essay.

Pay attention to grammar, spelling, word usage, and the flow of ideas. Are all of your ideas logically connected? Did you use transitions? Is your paper clear and concise? If you can confidently answer, “Yes” to these questions, now you’re done.

Final Thoughts on the Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Writing a rhetorical analysis isn’t quite as complicated as it seems. To ace your next rhetorical analysis essay, simply:

  • Read carefully, taking notes on the author’s use of rhetoric as you go.
  • Based on your notes, construct your thesis and build a plan. Select 3 to 4 rhetorical devices to discuss in your essay, along with textual examples of each.
  • Write your intro, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
  • Avoid summarizing! Instead, you’re analyzing and evaluating the author’s use of rhetorical devices.
  • Don’t forget to proofread!

Following these tips will help your critical reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills shine.

Early Release! Start AP Vocab

Good morning and welcome to our first early release day of the semester! Today, you will get your first set of vocabulary words. You have ten words per week, which you will get through a tactile vocabulary activity every Monday, after M.U.G. Monday. All of these vocabulary words come from the 100 most common SAT words.

Please see the directions below for this activity:

  1. Get into groups, preferably 3-4 students each.
  2. You will receive slips of paper in a Ziploc bag. Ten of these slips have vocabulary words, while the other ten have denotations.
  3. You have been provided with an example sentence for each vocabulary word. Using context clues and collaboratively within your groups, match up the definitions with their terms.
  4. Call Ms. A. over to check your work. You will only get a “yes” or “no” 🙂
  5. Once you have all terms matched up correctly, copy their denotations on the back of your sheet. Don’t forget the parts of speech!

Moving forward, you will have a vocabulary quiz every Friday over these terms. If you study just a little bit every day, you should have no problem!

Ms. A. also made it super easy for you — check out her Quizlet: (you’re welcome.)

Warm-up: Writing Wednesday

Today’s Writing Wednesday prompt comes from author Chuck Klosterman’s Hypertheticals.


You are offered a Brain Pill. If you swallow this pill, you will become 10 percent more intelligent than you currently are; you will be more adept at reading comprehension, logic, and critical thinking. However, to all other people you know (and to all future people you meet), you will seem 20 percent less intelligent. In other words, you will immediately become smarter, but the rest of the world will perceive you as dumber (and there is no way you can alter the universality of that perception).

Do you take this pill? Please answer in a minimum of 8-10 sentences.