English 5-6 IB Summer Reading

Hello, soon-to-be-my-wonderful students!

I am so excited for next year and the wonderful adventure ahead of us.  Well, I think it will be wonderful.  I’ll check back in with you next May and see if you thought it was.  Fingers crossed.

We will be looking at the development of America’s identity through literature, and how the human issues that authors wrote about are still relevant today.  We’ll explore fiction as a way to better understand ourselves and the world and people around us. C.S. Lewis once said, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it.”  We’ll look at the reality of the time in which the authors were writing, as well as in which the stories are set, and see how the novels we read add to our understanding of reality.

Let’s slow down a minute, though. We’ve still got some of this year to get through, and none of us want to hurry through our summer vacation. So, even though this is about the assignment you need to do over the summer, it doesn’t have to be done now. Take some time to rest, relax, and sleep.  I know I will. Go see a movie…or five, or seven.  Read a book for fun (You do that, right? No? Just me?). Give yourself some time to enjoy being out of school.  Once you’ve settled in, calmed down and found your happy place, then you can start.

But first, a quick overview of IB English.  It is divided into four parts. At North Canyon, Parts Two and Four are taught junior year and Parts One and Three are taught senior year.  The assessment for Part Two is an Internal Assessment, the Individual Oral Commentary. The Part Four assessment is another IA, the Individual Oral Presentation.  More on those once the school year begins. No need to stress about that now.

For those of you interested, here’s a quick overview of the works we’ll read next year:

So, on to the dreaded summer read.  Over the summer, you will be reading Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (this is the only book you will have to buy) and will basically be doing an analysis of plot, characterization, theme, and social commentary.  The assignment is attached.

You are probably wondering when all of this is due. Your Huck Finn assignment is due on Friday, August 23rd (however, we won’t be discussing it right away—we will read a few works in class before we get to Huck, but that gives me time to get your assignment graded).  The temptation is great to put off the summer read assignment until August.  That would not be wise, my little procrastinators. Doing this in July (or June, if you’re really motivated), when you don’t have any other school work to do, will be much less stressful than waiting until school starts and doing this on top of the classroom assignments you’ll have.  Choose wisely.

As I said before, take time for yourself once school is out.  I do not expect you to launch into the novel the day after finals.  However, I do expect you to read the novel in its entirety and not wait until the week before we come back to skim over it and shore up your understanding with a quick perusal of someone else’s summary of what they think is important and then base your writing on that.  Trust me, there is no substitute for the actual words of the author. Let all the authors we will read this year affect you. Allow yourself the joy of figuring out what they were trying to say, what they want the reader to learn, and what you yourself can take away from the work.  Throughout these four years of high school, you’ll be developing, refining and perfecting skills so that, when you leave here, you will head off in the direction of your choice, taking the lessons learned here and using them to move on to bigger, better, and more brilliant things. Don’t short-change yourself by cutting corners and not putting forth your best effort.  

I am looking forward to being a part of your four-year journey, to our time together next year, and all the amazing things we will learn!  If you have any questions, my email address is below.  I will be checking my email fairly regularly during the summer, so I if you go have any questions, or want to email me your first Huck Finn entry, I will do my best to get back to you within 5 days.

Also, I am in room 258, in case you think of a question and want to ask me in person.

Best wishes for a relaxing summer,

Ms. Brown

English Teacher

North Canyon High School

Oh, and there are two Karen Browns in the district, so make sure you are e-mailing the right one: Staff. Karen (NCHS) Brown 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summer Read Assignment – IB 5-6

Part One: Journal Entries

You will responding to the adventures that Huck (as per the title of the book) has traveling down the Mississippi River, and analyzing those episodes for character development, plot movement, social commentary, and irony.  In a sense, just as Huck is ‘journaling’ his adventure down the river, you will be ‘journaling’ your adventure reading the book.

There are 12 chapter sets listed below.  You will choose 6 chapter sets to respond to. For each chapter set you choose (each set is basically an “episode” in the novel), you will discuss characters, events and/or themes.

List of Sets

Set 1: Chapters 1-4

Set 2: Chapters 5-7

Set 3: Chapters 8-11

Set 4: Chapters 12-14

Set 5: Chapters 15-16

Set 6: Chapters 17-18

Set 7: Chapters 19-22

Set 8: Chapters 23-24

Set 9: Chapters 25-29

Set 10: Chapters 30-31

Set 11: Chapters 32-38

Set 12: Chapters 39-Chapter the Last (43)

You will choose 3 of the topics listed below to write about for each chapter set.  Please break your responses up into the sections listed (for example, for the first set of chapters, you might choose to do a, b, and d—please label each response with the letters).   Each topic should have about 3-4 sentences worth of discussion/ analysis.

You need to have at least one quote with page number for each chapter set, properly cited, that illustrates/is proof of an insight/observation/claim you make.  This quote can be incorporated in any of the above sections. You do not need to include a Works Cited page because all of your citations are from the same work.

You will need to type this. Once school starts, you will be submitting your journal to turnitin.com.

This assignment should be a single document, and each time you start a new journal entry, you should skip 4 lines after the previous entry, type “Entry ___ : Chapters _________”, center that, and do your next entry.

I would like MLA format in terms of the heading, just so that it is easy for me to identify whose paper it is.  However, this is not a formal essay. You can use first person and certainly include your own comments and ideas and responses to what I am asking you to write about (in fact, I encourage you to do so).

Grading/Point Value

For each chapter set, you will pick 3 of the 5 topics.  Each topic is worth 5 points.

5 points each X 3 topics

Direct quote that relates to a point being made (cited) 3 points

Proofread 2 points

3 topics X 5 =15

Quote = 3

Proofread = 2

Total 20 X 6 = 120 points

This portion of the summer read is worth 120 points.

***Since you’re doing this basically on your own without a chance to ask questions in a classroom setting, I would like to make the following offer:  If you would like to email me your first journal entry, whenever you happen to get it done over the summer, I would be happy to grade it and reply with the grade it would currently earn and any comments I have regarding the entry.  That way, you will have a better idea of what I am expecting/looking for. You certainly do not have to do this, but I want to make sure you are comfortable with the assignment. You can either share a Google doc with me, or copy and paste the entry into an email for me to read.  I promise I will get back to you within 5 days.

Part Two: Literary Analysis Essay

The second part is an essay, and this will be submitted as a separate assignment to turnitin.com.    This will also be due on Friday, August 23rd; however, this will be a rough draft.  You will have an opportunity for a peer edit, and to get comments from me before you turn in the final.  

You will be taking the sections from your entries—Huck, significant events, other characters, social commentary/irony, and/or theme—and writing a 4-paragraph literary analysis essay.  

You will have an introduction, two body paragraphs, and a conclusion.  You can write about one specific topic from the 5 you wrote on (for example, two paragraphs on Huck, or two paragraphs on theme) or you can mix and match (for example, one paragraph on the significance of one or two events, one paragraph on social commentary) if the two relate in some way.  It’s up to you. You should have a specific, concise thesis statement, regardless.

The rubric I will use to grade each part of the summer read is below.  The rubric mentions “the question asked”--that refers to your thesis.

A couple of notes:

*Note:  The following rubric is based on the one that will be used senior year on one of the IB assessments.  We will continue to utilized modified versions of this rubric throughout the year.

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (summer read)
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  • “Self-Reliance” and other Transcendentalist works by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Poetry (with a focus on Robert Frost)
  • A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
  • Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck or Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (time permitting)
  • Analyze the character development of Huck Finn. Consider:
  • How does he grow as a character in the chapters?
  • Does he have a learning moment?
  • Is a new facet of his character revealed?
  • Are there new adjectives you would use to describe him?
  • Explain the significance of the events/what happens in the chapters. Consider:
  • How do the chapters advance the plot?
  • How are the events significant to the overall story?
  • What is the most important event/moment that happens in the chapter?
  • Explain what the episode reveals about other characters. Consider:
  • What characters are important in the chapters?
  • What do we learn about them?  
  • Why are they significant?  
  • Do they have a particular importance to Huck?
  • Explain how the episode 1) contains a comment on society or the world and/or 2) contains an example of irony, and/or 3) contains any examples of literary terms worthy of analysis (you may find more than one of those options in a chapter). Consider:
  • What is Twain trying to point out to the reader about the world, or human nature, or society at the time?
  • Is there foreshadowing? Imagery? Conflict? Examples of word choice or language that are striking?
  • Anything else you want to discuss in the chapters that you haven’t had a chance to talk about?
  • Explain how the episode relates to a theme being developed in the novel (this can be the same theme throughout the novel, or you can identify several themes).
  • Huck’s Character Development
  • Significance of events
  • Analysis of other characters
  • Analysis of social commentary, irony, lit terms
  • Analysis of theme
  • Criteria A is concerned with whether your essay proves your understanding of the novel, based on how well you address your thesis.  
  • Criteria B is concerned with how completely you address your thesis, and whether everything in your paper relates back to that thesis.
  • Criteria C examines your use of literary terms (do you apply them correctly, do you illustrate them effectively).
  • Criteria D evaluates the overall organization and flow of your essay.
  • Criteria F looks at whether you use academic language and have proofread your essay.
  • You can use first person in the journal entries. You can say, I like Huck because…  or I think the Dauphin is the worst person in the world because… Definitely infuse the journal entries with your personality if you so desire.  Sometimes that makes it more fun to grade.
  • For the essay, though, you should be writing in 3rd person—no “I,” please.
  • I talked about the format for the journal entries above.  The essay must be in MLA format, with proper heading, title and margins.

Criterion A: Knowledge and Understanding





Level Descriptor





There is some knowledge but virtually no understanding of the work in relation to the question asked.




There is mostly adequate knowledge and some superficial understanding of the work in relation to the question asked.




There is adequate knowledge and understanding of the work in relation to the question asked.




There is good knowledge and understanding of the work in relation to the question asked.




There is perceptive knowledge and understanding of the work in relation to the question asked.

Criterion B: Response to the Question





Level Descriptor





The student shows little awareness of the main implications of the question, and ideas are mainly irrelevant and/or insignificant.




The student responds to some of the main implications of the question with some relevant ideas.





The student responds to most of the main implications of the question with consistently relevant ideas.





The student responds to the main implications and some subtleties of the question with relevant and carefully explored ideas.




The student responds to all the implications, as well as the subtleties, of the question with convincing and thoughtful ideas.

Criterion C: Appreciation of the Literary Conventions of the Genre










Some literary conventions are identified but there is limited development relevant to the question and/or the work used.




Examples of literary conventions are sometimes correctly identified and developed, with some relevance to the question and the work used.




Examples of literary conventions are satisfactorily identified and developed, with relevance to the question and the work used.




Examples of literary conventions are clearly identified and effectively developed, with relevance to the question and the work used.




Examples of literary conventions are perceptively identified and persuasively developed, with clear relevance to the question and the work used.

Criterion D: Organization and Development





Level Descriptor





Ideas have little organization; there may be a superficial structure, but coherence and/or development are lacking.




Ideas have some organization, with a recognizable structure, but coherence and/or development are often lacking.




Ideas are adequately organized, with a suitable structure and attention paid to coherence and development.




Ideas are effectively organized, with a very good structure, coherence and development.




Ideas are persuasively organized, with excellent structure, coherence and development.

Criterion E: Language





Level Descriptor





Language is rarely clear and appropriate; there are many errors in grammar, vocabulary and sentence construction, and little sense of register and style.




Language is sometimes clear and carefully chosen; grammar, vocabulary and sentence construction are fairly accurate, although errors and inconsistencies are apparent; the register and style are to some extent appropriate to the task.




Language is clear and carefully chosen, with an adequate degree of accuracy in grammar, vocabulary and sentence construction despite some lapses; register and style are consistently appropriate to the task.




Language is clear and carefully chosen, with a good degree of accuracy in grammar, vocabulary and sentence construction; register and style are consistently appropriate to the task.




Language is clear, effective, carefully chosen and precise, with a high degree of accuracy in grammar, vocabulary and sentence construction; register and style are effective and appropriate to the task.