PARENT REVIEWPosted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
I would like to recommend Miss Kay’s AP Literature class to anyone who appreciates good writing and loves to play with words. This is not a particular skill of mine, but I can certainly see that she is a top-notch wordsmith with an excellent command of a great body of literature, and a fantastic sense of humor to boot. It is not easy to get my 17 year old daughter enthused about anything resembling structured education, but she has loved her time in Miss Kay’s AP Lit class, and she was truly sad when it ended. I am also not super skilled at the ins and outs of online classes but it seemed to me that she knows how to work that system to everyone’s advantage.. I never heard a complaint about the technical aspects of the classes and, indeed, I heard often how much she was enjoying the interactive discussions in this class. We have yet to get the AP Exam scores, but from how well she did on the practice work, I'd say the class definitely prepared my daughter well for the exam.
A big thank you to Miss Kay for the wonderful class she has put together.
I felt incredibly prepared for the examPosted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Hello, hello! Since you're reading this, I can only assume that you are considering a very good decision indeed: enrolling in Miss Kay's AP Lit class. I have only good things to say about this class, and Miss Kay is an incredible teacher who cares about the subject, rather than just teaching for the test. I don't mean that you won't be prepared for the test; I feel incredibly prepared, and can't wait to take the AP exam. Miss Kay puts you through your literary paces over the course of the year, and under her tutelage, you will be prepared for the exam and whatever literature college throws at you.
A small caveat to the above statement: you will be prepared if you do the work. You get what you put into the class. Miss Kay will do her best for you (she certainly did for me) but you have to expect a maybe two hours of work per day (or ten-plus hours per week. You could write a paper in twelve hours in one sitting (bad idea--I can vouch for this) or you can spread it out over the week. It's better that way).
If I had to pick a favorite assignment this year, I would vacillate between two: reading Chaim Potok's The Chosen (which you, lucky students, get to read for the first time. How I envy you!), and the independent novel project. I chose to read Gone With the Wind (which convinced me that I will probably never read it again), but I tremendously enjoyed the dialectical journal. I want to pick up a journal and pen every time I read a book now, because the habit of recording your thoughts while you read is such a valuable one (also, you get to record all the snarky thoughts you have along the way).
I already had an all-consuming love for books, literature, and the English Language in general, so I was already at the front of the line when it came to being interested in literature. But believe it or not, I love English literature even more after taking this class. I've discovered C.S. Lewis outside of The Chronicles of Narnia, which was a revelation, and I have yet to experience a reader's burnout (if anything, I want to read more now. And as someone who goes through a book or two a week, that's saying something). If I can credit Miss Kay with anything, it is that she got me to not love, but to appreciate Shakespeare by making us read Hamlet.
The wonderful thing about having a small class is that you become like family...or perhaps more of a clan. I loved talking to my classmates: we had weekly live video session, and at one point tried to organize another one to further argue about The Great Gatsby after class was over. We also respond to one another's posts and assignments, so we get feedback not only from Miss Kay, but also from people whose views might differ greatly from our own. Over time, you get to know each other through the posts you write, the novels and poems you choose to write about--it's a nice way to get to know each other. And yes, you do become pretty good friends by the end of the year.
Now, as to what type of student would do well in this course: I would say just about anybody who wants to learn and is willing to do the work. But I absolutely would recommend this class to any- and everybody, because this was my favorite class out of my entire high school career. You will not only learn English Lit, you will also have a delightful time (and lots of reading. Could it be better?).
I thoroughly enjoyed this coursePosted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
To future AP English Literature and Composition students,
If you’re looking for an AP Lit course to join, you’ve come to the right place! Miss Kay is an excellent teacher who prepares her students for more than just the exam; and through the many weeks in this course, I’ve grown a sharper eye for analyzing and a deeper appreciation of literature. And although the course load was a bit heavy, the assignments were never tedious. I also thoroughly enjoyed discussing the class readings with my classmates, who were always thoughtful and witty; in fact, interacting with your classmates on Slack is one of the best things about the course!
Now, I’ve mentioned that the course involves a lot of work, but don’t let that intimidate you. If you spread out the assignments, you only really need to do about two hours of homework per day (although this varies depending on the week). Some helpful tips are:
- Get started early, especially on the novel readings and the DQs
- Keep an eye on the weekly assignment letter; I checked off the assignments in the letter as I completed them, and this really helped me to keep track of how much time I needed to complete the week’s homework
- Do the extra credit when you can
More particular advice:
- September is a bootcamp—basically, you’ll read several short stories and analyze them. This will prepare you for novel analysis later in the year.
- There will be handouts titled “Introduction to …” that introduce aspects of literature (i.e. irony, theme, tone, etc). Read and reread these—they’ll be super helpful for your DQs.
- Pay attention to the novel DQs! For each novel, you’ll write a few weeks of DQs on them (usually ~2-4 DQs each week). They’ll be helpful for when you want to review the novel.
- While reading the novels, I used sticky bookmarks to mark places with important quotes (usually quotes that illustrate a character or theme) and I sometimes used index cards to summarize chapters. This way, I could quickly review the chapters, which is especially handy for books such as Beloved and The Remains of the Day, which have non-linear storylines.
- For each novel, you’ll be expected to create a Novel Notes sheet. Although you won’t have to hand them to the teacher, I highly suggest you make the Novel Notes sheet right after reading each novel (instead of months later, like me), since it’ll help you remember things like the novel’s theme, important characters, etc.
- For your Independent Novel Project, I suggest looking through the lists of novels that appears under past AP Lit FRQs to get a feel of what books will be useful for exam preparation. Also, get started early and don’t procrastinate! The project consists of a dialectical journal, a creative presentation, and a book summary. The dialectical journal is where you’ll record questions/thoughts/analyses of passages in your chosen novel, and it can be time-consuming.
- Extra credit options include reading extra articles and completing the Tolkien extra credit project. Each extra article is worth 2 bonus participation points, while the Tolkien extra credit project is worth 5 bonus points to you overall grade.
- The Tolkien extra credit project is offered in the second semester, and it’s exactly like the Independent Novel Project (keeping a dialectical journal and all that), except that you’re reading a Tolkien novel; you might want to start this one early if you plan to do this project.
- If you like putting on some music while reading/doing homework, I highly recommend the playlists on the Youtube channels Halidonmusic and Tranquil music sea - 寧靜樂海
Live long and prosper,
Ms. Kay is an incredible teacher!Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Dear Incoming Class,
Congratulations! You’ve made the wonderful decision to take this course! You're in for a lot of work, but most of it is actually pretty enjoyable (certainly more enjoyable than my other classes this year). Miss Kay is an incredible teacher; she's definitely been the highlight of my school year. I almost didn’t take this class—I realized during the summer that I was going to put too much on my plate this year, so I decided to drop a class (and I was thinking about dropping this one). But around that time I received a welcome email from Miss Kay in response to my application to the class, and she completely won me over in just that one email. I’ve never had a teacher who is as invested in their class and students as Miss Kay. She’s the biggest reason to take this class (even if you hate reading/writing).
This is an AP English Literature class, so you’re preparing for the AP exam, but I never felt like Miss Kay was just teaching to the test. The scope and depth of this course went far beyond the AP exam—I think I learned more in this class this year than in all my other high school English classes combined. I feel prepared for the test, but I also feel way more prepared for college and life in general. This isn’t the kind of class that you finish and think, “There’s no way I’m ever going to need that stuff again.” I learned skills here that I know will be with me for years to come.
Even though I loved this class, I’ll be the first to admit that it is hard. You can’t just do the least amount of work possible and expect no one to notice (our class had eight students; there’s no way to fly under the radar). You’ve got to work hard and put time into the class. But I promise the work is worth it—I feel so accomplished and prepared having taken this class. And one huge thing to remember is: don’t get scared away by all this because you think that you aren’t good enough at reading or writing!! This class might seem scary, but it really isn’t. The only thing necessary to succeed in this class is hard work. Miss Kay is a good teacher; she will teach you everything you need to know and work with you on the things you struggle with. She’s also very understanding and kind—don’t be afraid to ask her for help. I started this class very confident when reading/writing about literature, but very inexperienced and hesitant about reading/writing about poetry. Now I am totally confident when it comes to poetry, and it’s all thanks to this class.
But yes, this class is a lot of work, so here are some tips on how to succeed:
- Stay on top of the readings. You’re going to be reading a lot, and you can’t just skim or use sparknotes—you need to really understand what you read. Make sure to finish your readings in time for the discussion questions. I would also suggest taking notes while you read; that really helped me. I would highlight lines and take notes whenever I came across something I liked, didn’t understand, wanted to tell the class about, or thought was extra important to the plot.
- Interact with your classmates. Don’t be afraid to speak up during discussion (whether online or in-person). Let your classmates know when you agree with them, disagree with them, or have questions for them. Getting used to discussion-based classes is important—you’ll probably have a lot in college—and some of the best insights I got into the books we were reading came from bouncing ideas off of my classmates.
- Ask Miss Kay questions. Don’t be afraid to ask Miss Kay when you have questions about books, grammar, writing, etc. She’s your best resource, and she wants to help you. If you can’t figure out why Huck Finn said a particular thing, ask Miss Kay! You’re guaranteed to end up with a better understanding of the material.
I wish you all the best of luck! I hope you enjoy this class as much as I did!
Choose this course!Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Greetings, future APES 🦍! (Yes, you must get used to being called by this simian title).
Don’t even think about looking for another AP Lit Course. None of them will be as good (by far) as this class. Not only did I learn how to explicate poems incredibly well, but I also regained a love of books. All the other literature classes I had taken beforehand slowly corroded away my interest in reading through long, boring reading passages and monotonous homework loads. This class, on the other hand, features long but very enjoyable reading passages, as well as, yes, lots of homework—though, I’m not sure you could call it homework in the conventional sense; much of the time, I had to remind myself I was actually doing schoolwork because of how much I enjoyed it.
Even though this course is a pleasure to be in, there is still, of course, the workload. Expect about an hour and a half of homework per day, though this varies week to week. Make sure to read the weekly assignment letter carefully, so a sudden increase in the work does not catch you off guard. As per my favorite assignment, it would have to be the Extended Metaphor Exercise. It is not often that you and your classmates get to make up extremely random metaphors for life’s most profound questions and then have a voting war on whose is the best—all while increasing your course grade.
If you take this course, you will find that, even though your classmates come from significantly different backgrounds, they all share one thing—formidable intellects. This can be a bit off-putting at first, but over time, conversing with your classmates will strengthen your skills of debate immensely.
If you are to survive in this course, you must possess an understanding of certain remote inferences found in Shakespearean English, excellent time management, and, of course, a love of all things literature.
You’ve made a great choice choosing the course, O Future Ape. Know that there is, indeed, a light at the end of the tunnel that is the school year, and in a year, you too, having acquired your newfound wisdom, will be writing your own course review for yet another generation of APES.
Felt like a book club with friends!Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Dear incoming class, this is Simon. You probably won’t ever meet me, care about me, or know my middle name. However, you have to trust me. What I’m about to tell you is probably the most important...no, like third important, or... it’s super important. I am going to give you a rundown of what to expect in the next year of your life, at least in this class, and why that is something you should be excited for. Obviously, I will not be in your class, so it won’t be as good as it could be at its maximum potential, but what can be done about that? More Edgar Allan Poe, the best author of all time, could be added as well, but that’s on Miss Kay, not y’all.
The thing that I really took from the class above everything else is how it felt to take it. It almost felt like a book club, where a group of friends could sit down and discuss books as you read them. This sometimes applied to poetry as well. There are these things called discussion questions, which involve each student selecting and answering certain questions about the book the class is currently reading, which were a personal favorite of mine within the class. The ability to write professional responses to a text everyone is reading is a valuable one, and it builds community and involvement within the class group as a whole. Couple this with the live discussions, which are live video chats where the class can speak and debate about the novel or play being read, and you have yourself a splendid combination of involvement and interaction with the class over a text. These are a must. If you want to truly assert your opinion and understand the book in its entirety, this is the best way to so.
If you are into poetry, then this class is for you. It’d also be a great friend option. Anyhow, the class consists of consistent analysis of poetry, in the first and second semester, since poetry is a significant portion of the AP literature exam. The nice thing about the class is that poetry is read and analyzed so often, you will most likely find something that you can appreciate or enjoy, even if you are not into poetry. That being said, if you are completely opposed to the idea of reading poetry, I don’t think that this class, or any AP Literature class, is for you. That being said, there is no need to be a bookworm or poetry addict. I myself am not the biggest reader, but I thoroughly enjoyed the reading we did this year, with the exception of the The Great Gatbsy, which luckily for y’all, Miss Kay was thinking about exchanging for another book next year.
A lot of classes, especially online ones, throw you a syllabus and leave you with that. However, you are able to expect an organized, informational email from Miss Kay every week with the upcoming homework as well as some useful terms for the AP Exam. This is a lifesaver, and I mean it. To know at the start of each week what has to be done, and how to do them is something that is extremely valuable. In saying this, I have to explain how brilliant of a teacher Miss Kay is. The fact that she has everything ready for students at the start of their week is convenient for those wanting to be productive early, as well as for those that are not able to begin until later, allowing them to understand how bad their work load is for the week. She is a teacher that is almost always accessible by email, and is prompt and helpful in responses. I would know this, because I became sick and had family concerns for a good portion of the second semester, and she helped me get back on track before the AP Exam came around. Not too many teachers these days care about their students, but I can confidently assert that Miss Kay does, and I can say this firsthand from the experience I had with her explaining why one of my discussion posts was a rant, and how to handle this better next time, even offering a personal example from her "literary analysis career" to show that she’s been through it as well. When you’re signing up for this class, you’re getting a good teacher. Oh, and there’s no summer reading.
Lastly, yes, there is an AP Exam. And AP Exams are not known to be easy. However, I can confirm that if you follow the class and appreciate the material that Miss Kay gives to the class, it will be a breeze. I haven’t gotten my scores back yet, but I am fairly certain I did well (save perhaps the third essay, which had probably the worst quote I have ever seen to analyze). Unlike other classes, there is no real "last month of severe study." The studying for the exam is truly done throughout the entirety of the year, and if you have followed along well, then you will be set out to do well on the exam, so don’t worry.
However. There’s always a however, isn’t there? This class is difficult. It is an AP class, and that means that you, a high school student, will be undergoing college level material. Be ready for that. You might have to read 60 pages of a book you don’t really like in a week. There will be major projects that will be drawn out over time, and that means you will have to manage your time so that all is not done at the last minute. Be smart, and work hard. The rest will come in itself. Enjoy yourself, and interact with your classmates. There is a Robert Frost assignment at the start of the year that has to be done with a partner; why don’t you email a classmate and see if they want to do it. Maybe you’ll make a good friend. At the end of the day, this class is great, but at the end of the day you are a major part of your enjoyment in the class. Trust me, seeing your essay writing improvement or getting a compliment from Miss Kay on your discussion board post is a great feeling. But it all comes with hard work.
Y’all got this.
-Simon, the Edgar Allan Poe addict.
"Ms. Kay Is Awesome"Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Dear AP Class That’s About To Happen,
First and most importantly, you are an APE. Well, all humans are, of course. (If you’re not human, then you can look down your nose/olfactory organ at us for the lest of this letter). In this case, APE stands for Advanced Placement English student, but I bet you already figured that out. Being an APE in and of itself is nothing to sneeze at (see reference to nose/olfactory organ). Congratulations.
Last year, we had a Broadway-worthy actress, a Book Thief -loving Slytherin, a character-naming genius, a world-traveling super-student, a mysterious fashion-expert who never wasted words, a what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stranger trekkie, and one very out-numbered man. (The rest of us were female.) You’ll be getting their letters too. Good luck guessing who’s who.
It’ll be interesting to see what this year’s class is like. Be nice to each other. You don’t have to agree with your fellow APEs. They will be interesting people, though, so it’s worth paying attention to them.
Ms. Kay is awesome. This is not blatant flattery, it’s a fact. Don’t be afraid to ask her for help if there’s anything you struggle with. She knows that life affects schoolwork. On the other hand, she knows that schoolwork affects life. There are no white wizards in our world, but there are English teachers, the only difference being that white wizards never let anyone pass. Be nice to her too.
Yep, it’s going to be hard work. (Or hard-ish, at least.) Yes, there will probably be one book or story that scares the living daylights out of you, and one book or story (or poem) that bores you to tears. Hope for happy endings, but be warned: Many characters died (or were gruesomely brought back from the dead) in the making of this class. There are even characters who fall into both categories multiple times. Don’t worry, though. There will be one book or story you never want to leave behind. At least one.
Live Long and Prosper,
Favorite literature course I've ever taken!Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
The quick bullet-point guide to AP Lit
- This class has the potential to be one of the most engaging and enjoyable classes that you have ever taken. Don't waste that opportunity, dive into the work and make an effort to write something that you are proud of rather than just completing homework requirements!
- While the workload is intensive, it is not overwhelming and on the occasional weeks that I procrastinated a smidge...*ahem* a lot!, I found that you can push out all the work in a 7 to 12 panicked rush on Sunday but I don't recommend you take that route. Instead, if you plan it out you will be able to divide the work-load into perfectly reasonable chunks throughout the week.
- For those of you who are like me and enjoy reading and analyzing literature but struggle with writing, this class is a great way to build your writing skills. Miss Kay does a great job at easing you into writing and by the time your first big paper comes around you will be more than adequately prepared to tackle it. There is also a lot of freedom when it comes to writing and you will cultivate your personal writing style rather than having to follow a rigorous and annoying paper guideline.
- The books are fun! Well, fun for AP Literature books. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading and discussing the books and intend to read more from Morrison and Ishiguro. Most literature classes seem to slowly sap my joy for reading throughout the year but this class acted as the reverse as my book list is ever growing.
- My favorite book of the year, The Remains Of The Day, deserves its own bullet point. I enjoy epic fantasy and Sci-fi, you know the whole fast-passed action-packed kind of book, but somehow this story stole my heart and I have become emotionally attached to the character Stevens.
- If you are intimidated or infinitely bored by poetry, I promise that this class not only breaks down poetry in an easy to comprehend and applicable way and that at least one of the poems you read this year will stick with you. I personally enjoyed The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.
- One of the most rewarding assignments that you will do is your Independent Novel Project. You will be given the opportunity to pick your own novel which you will proceed to read, keep a dialectical journal on, and complete a creative project for. I gained immense satisfaction from ripping my book to shreds in terms of its stylistic choices and character building but more importantly you get to experience the first hand satisfaction of utilizing your new literature skills in analyzing your chosen novel... all by yourself! Training wheels come off for this project and while that seems scary it actually makes the project immensely fun.
- Long story short this has been my favorite literature course I have ever taken and is most definitely worth every minute of work!
Dear upcoming APES...Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Hi, I’m Lauren, a very proud, devoted-disciple-of-Miss-Kay APE veteran.
I’m so glad you chose this course. To be perfectly honest, I wish with all my heart that I can take it again. You will have an amazing time, to be sure. Before taking APLIT with Miss Kay, I was one of those run-of-the-mill “passionate” lovers of literature and a very mediocre grammar nazi. After taking APLIT, however …*evil chuckle* I became a literature psycho with unrealistically insane perspectives on different works that we studied. Oh, I tell you, I went berserk with my literary insights. Miss Kay graciously prodded my imagination to the point of it just…exploding with fanfares of fireworks. Some days, it was just a tiny sprinkle of sparkles (which, in essence, meant trying to extract a single thesis for 40-50 minutes); other days, I could have drawn literary connections with Handel’s Messiah and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn in a mere 20 minutes. (Ooh, and I even went from a mediocre grammar nazi to an absolute cutthroat grammar fanatic. Thought it worth mentioning.) Anyway, Miss Kay opened up a whole new world of literature that I had previously never known. Poem explications, DQs, and live discussions (just to name a few), were all incredibly eye-opening for me and better enhanced my skill as a reader and a writer. (Okay, so maybe there were occasional times when I would have rather endured an excruciating trip to the dentist than to explicate another poem…but, y’know.)
Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. I am so thankful that APLIT has taught me to express my thoughts tactfully. Random note: I am, typically, a private person, and I pretty much keep my thoughts to myself, but the APLIT assignments drew me out. I expressed myself in ways I never would have normally. I wrote some real cringe-worthy responses (i.e. the Dear John/Jane letter) and I was so emotionally moved by my own DQs that I teared up at one point. (Perfect example of humility, I know. You don’t have to go that far.) Some DQ assignments allowed me to connect personal aspects of my life with the book we were studying. While working on some assignments, I honestly felt like I was rambling on and on in my journal. (Yes, I feel absolutely horrible for all my poor classmates who had to read through all that AND reply.) It was so refreshing for me, though.
Before you begin to think that APLIT life will be a vale of cupcakes, let me warn you: this class requires effort. Pour your soul into the work. Trust me, it will be worth it. You will learn so much. Don’t procrastinate, and stay on top of the readings. Plan ahead for your papers, and for your upcoming projects.
Miss Kay is the sweetest teacher (no, I am not exaggerating) and I owe all my amazing developments as a writer to her. I tremendously enjoyed learning under her guidance. (She has gone through so much, due to one of our classmate’s tendency to frequently change his profile picture/name. Think John Legend, the CIA, the Birthday Chick, etc.) Thanks to Miss Kay, I am now able to quickly pen a 4-5 page paper over the course of two days, at the most. And of course, I feel beautifully prepared for the AP Exam, in which I SHALL earn a (dare I say it?) five.
Have fun, future APE!
Dear incoming class...Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
You have no idea how lucky you are, you have chosen a wonderful teacher. Now while I do realize I currently sound like a major suck up I am telling you no lies. Through my many years of English classes I have never once had a teacher as wonderful and thoughtful as Mrs. Kay. In just a few short months she has taught me more about English than any of my other teachers have combined. And this is mainly due to one thing, she teaches for you to learn, not to simply prepare you for an exam, and I feel that in this way I was more prepared for the exam than I ever could have been. She has taught me to find the joy in writing and has renewed my interest in literature that I had, unfortunately, lost throughout many years within the public school system.
Now I am not going to lie, this class will at times become extremely difficult. There are many novels to read and there is not always a great deal of time to do so. These books come with their fair share of work as well. Essays and projects and goodness not another DBQ. But I promise, these strenuous DBQ’S will all become worth it.
Mrs. Kay knows how difficult things may get and she is so understanding of the fact. You are lucky to get a teacher that posts funny yet informative articles for you to read as a way to relieve the stress. I have found a great deal of advice in these articles that have stuck with me. Future students, this class is going to take a lot of time and a lot of hard work, but assure you, it will all be worth it. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll do well.
Hello all incoming students!Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Hello, to all incoming students or students considering Miss Ben-Avraham’s AP Literature and Composition class,
Firstly, allow me to say congratulations on this beneficial step in your education journey, especially as you near college more and more. For some, this may be your first AP class or fifth. Either way, you are on the right track!
Secondly, I assure you it was (or will be) a wonderful choice for having Miss Ben-Avraham (or Miss Kay, as many students also say) be with you in that education journey! I cannot think of a better teacher to help flame either a latent love or an already burning passion for reading and analysis. Her advice and teachings are very clear, and she is very understanding of any troubles you might have. Whether it be with the material itself or the time needed to submit the assignments. Her comments and notes on your essays and similar material will also put you on the right track to becoming a great college writer.
And be sure to enjoy all the reading you shall do in this class. There is a lot of it – between the class texts and the weekly supplied reading material needed to read – but I assure, your mind will love how much reading you will be doing and be wishing for a re-read of every piece you read. They may make you laugh – as you see a man with a love of logical fallacies get turned down by his crush who calls out the fallacies of his confession – they may make you think – as you analyze the tragic life of Dr. Victor Frankenstein – or make you cry – as you see post-Civil War life of a black family in Beloved. Other class readings – like the wonderful book Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose – may even whip your writing further into shape. Whatever these class readings shall do, they will transform you into an even better writer and better analyst.
But also, be sure to enjoy yourself and have fun in this class! Have fun sharing your creative endeavors with your fellow classmates. Do something truly astounding in the creative portion of your Independent Novel Project (you will soon find out what I refer to). Perhaps even do what some of the students in my class did: get into an impassioned, yet respectful debate over an analysis of a certain class text. Apply interesting, yet valid interpretations to questions or poems presented to you. Whatever enjoying yourself means to you, make sure you make this class truly an experience to remember for years to come!
Whether this is your first step or yet another step in your AP journey, enjoy this class. As I depart, this shall be my last step in my AP journey as I move on to college. But truly, I’ll never forget the steps I took during it. Whether it be because of the wonderful people I met, the wonderful subjects I learned, or the wonderful questions asked of me, each class shall stick with me years to come. And I hope that as you take your next step with Miss Ben-Avraham, this class shall stick in your mind all the same.
You all shall do wonderful, I’m sure! May the remainder of your high school years and beyond be prosperous and informative.
Justin Branden Emmanuel Sewell
(P.S: Frankenstein is the best assigned reading and let no one tell you otherwise.)
Loved itPosted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Hi, my name is James Walker. I liked this class. It was fun. I learned a lot. Hope you like it too.
Did you really think I would leave it at that? Well, we’re probably not acquainted, so no harm done. Anyways, let’s dissect (you must familiarize yourself with dissections if you want to succeed in this class) the simple, monotonous statements portrayed above.
“Hi, my name is James Walker.” Actually, I go by James, but my birth certificate declares otherwise. Case closed. No more, no less. But now that I’ve divulged one secret, I’ll disclose some more. If Miss Kay—the awe-inspiring teacher of this class—adheres to habit, you’ll be working through Slack. Now here’s the catch. Slack… lets you change your name… your profile picture… and everything else regarding your profile… to anything you want! Dear reader, please do not hesitate to exploit this handy tool (or should I say weapon?) during this class. Personally, I’ve impersonated the Birthday Chick (in honor of a classmate’s birthday), the CIA (to spy on my classmates), and John Legend (in order to become the star of a classmate’s play). Slack is clearly more powerful than you could have ever known—it grants you the power of humor. Use it wisely.
“I liked this class.” Bit of an understatement (literary device!). I LOVED this class! Every moment of it. Well, not the late-night excursions turning in late schoolwork. That… was my fault. I had severe scheduling issues in my first semester of my Junior year. Furthermore, I could not help but spend hours on every assignment. I’m a perfectionist, after all. But if you want to succeed, listen to Miss Kay. What did Miss Kay suggest? This: “I want your DQs to reflect careful thought, but not obsessive perfectionism. You should spend approximately one half hour on each DQ, no more.” Listen to this advice! AP Exams are timed. By practicing timed writing, you will familiarize yourself with the exam. In the final few weeks leading up to the exam, I spent hours applying myself to past AP English Literature tests, trying to nail the timing.
Anyways, I sort of jumped onto a tangent—albeit an important one—there. Why did I like the class? “It was fun,” for one thing. The books—The Chosen, Beloved, Frankenstein, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Remains of the Day, and Hamlet—were intensely captivating… For schoolbooks, that is. I’m sort of downplaying them here—they really were really, really interesting! Only, I’m into Brandon Sanderson and David Eddings—epic fantasy. Other than what we read, I loved the classmate interaction that Miss Kay required of us. We were to read our classmates’ work, and I gleaned many profound insights from everyone else. Additionally, the encouragement we received from each other was rather… encouraging. Another thing I loved was that Miss Kay rewards hard work towards the exam, not just results (although great results can earn you extra credit!). If you devote yourself to the course, Miss Kay will provide you an excellent grade. That’s why “I liked this class”: Miss Kay was a wonderful teacher, my classmates were patient with my antics, and the work was entertaining.
“I learned a lot.” That’s another understatement. I learned three thousand! (Variant of an Endgame quote.) I now know and understand synecdoche. I can explicate poetry like a boss. And I can spell onomatopoeia. The things Miss Kay will teach you will stick with you throughout your literary journey. It’s not all about achieving that pretty five. Just most of it.
“Hope you like it too.” Enjoy this class. Miss Kay teaches like you’ll never believe. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of her teaching and writing skills!
Welcome to the Party!Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Welcome to the party. If I am being completely honest, this is one of the more rigorous classes I have taken in high school. You will be challenged. There will be times when you feel like you are completely overloaded with work and just want to sleep. That’s normal, I can guarantee you that all of us felt like that at one point, and we all made it through. This class will stress you out, but you will be incredibly ready for the AP test. I’ve taken other classes, but I have only felt truly ready to test after this class.
Here are a few tips I have for you as some one who made it through to the other side. First, do the discussion questions. Even if you just say "Alert Reader," finish them. It’s very easy to get behind, and when you do, it’s very hard to get ahead. Within this, also take advantage of extra credit opportunities. I took some, but missed others. I wish I had taken them all. There will be a project called the "Independent Novel Project." We picked our books in December, I would assume that you will do the same. Then you get into spring, and you will have other projects in front of you. You will work on those projects, and slowly but surely, the Independent Novel Project will creep up on you. Suddenly, you will be staring down this project, and you’ll have very little time to finish it. Start it early, finish it early. You will thank me later.
Second, your classmates and your teacher will actually make this fun. You will find you share some viewpoints and disagree about others. In the end, they will help you understand things that you find yourself struggling with, and you will do the same for them. They--and you--are all here because they are smart people, so if they give you feedback, listen to it. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, no one is going to do anything worse than disagree with you.
Finally, don’t procrastinate. If I could rewind this year and do it all over again, I would refuse to listen to the part of me that said "do it later." Make a schedule and stick to it. The Independent Novel Project is especially egregious in this regard, but everything has a due date. As soon as you can work on something, work on it. Even if you don’t finish, just put some work in. Don’t be afraid to be the first person to post something. Being ahead of the curve is a good thing in this class.
Again, you may struggle in this class. It will be difficult, challenging, (insert word here), but it will be a great experience for you as a writer. Put the work in, and it won’t just be doable, it will be fun! (Also, there is a massive amount of poetry, but most of you will probably like it more than I did).
Dear incoming class...Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Don’t be too scared. This class isn’t really as bad as it’s cracked up to be, in fact, it’s actually quite fun. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but isn’t all school? Make sure to keep up with your assignments, and always do the extra credit assignments because the extra points helps compensate for any late work or bad grades you might receive.
Here are my biggest tips:
First, you should always speak your mind. It’s about a hundred times harder to do work when you’re making up a fake opinion on it. People can’t condemn you for speaking about your true opinion with passion and excitement. A bunch of different viewpoints makes class more interesting too! It helps all the students learn more, because they get to hear everyone’s unique perspective. Maybe everyone won’t agree with you, in fact, I highly doubt they will, but at least you’ll be speaking your mind and you’ll actually be able to back up your words.
Second, you should make sure that you prioritize your independent novel project when the time for it comes. It’s so easy to put it off. Don’t fall into that trap! Life is a lot easier when you just schedule a little everyday. You won’t have to cram it in over a week and then turn it in when it’s not quite ready.
Third, starting during the first semester, you should study test vocab because it actually helps a lot, and starting in the second semester, you should study the actual test and do practice tests. When I completed my first full exam (the one that we do for class) I was completely off on my timing. I had 30 minutes left on the multiple choice section and I finished all of my essays in 45 minutes! Needless to say, it wasn’t my best work. Make sure you get used to the timing of the test so you can use it to your advantage instead of struggling with it.
Fourth, make friends with your class members! I love all my current class members because they’re all awesome people. Attending the live discussions really helps you form connections with them. Even disagreements (nice ones, of course) can help you better understand your classmates!
Have a great year!
Take This Class!Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Take. This. Class.
*bows* That is all I have to say. Thank you, and goodnight.
But of course, you’re all sitting in front of your computers asking yourselves why you should listen to the rando commanding you from her screen, so perhaps I should stay and tell you why this class is so magnificent, so marvelous, so majestic. (Yes, I did use a thesaurus to come up with that list of adjectives, and you would do well to make friends with your thesaurus too if you’re planning on taking this class.)
So, here we go:
- This class lives on Slack, which means that, unlike virtually every other online class in the known universe, you actually get to talk to your classmates and Miss Kay. I think this must have been some stroke of genius on Miss Kay’s part, because literature study requires discussion and interaction (as do class shenanigans- looking at you, John Legend), which is next to impossible in traditional online classrooms.
- Miss Kay is quite possibly the most fabulous teacher you will ever meet in your career as a student. And given the law of nature that fabulous teachers must occupy less than 5% of the teacher population at any given time, you may as well take advantage of the good ones when you can find them. Miss Kay truly loves literature (all literature, not just the kind that The Powers that Be decide is Worthy of Study) and she is more than willing to entertain even the most absurd of ideas in the name of education (trust me- during one live discussion, I tried to argue that Hamlet technically fixed things because everyone was dead and there was no one left over for anyone to have beef with, which was of course followed by quite a hearty bout of laughter on everyone’s parts.) Discussions with her are collaborations, not lectures, and she always treats her students like intelligent people whose ideas are valid, regardless of that fact that they’re students and are still learning. She is also incredibly understanding when life happens, as it tends to do, and one or two late assignments aren’t likely to tank your grade as long as you email her and let her know what’s going on.
- The Chosen. I have yet to find another AP Lit class that has the chosen on its syllabus, which I find absurd. The chosen was my favorite book we read all year, and its ending is perhaps the most gloriously heartfelt thing to have happened in literature since books started to be a thing. The Chosen is heartbreaking and heartwarming and all the emotions all wrapped up into one amazing novel, and if I can’t convince you to take this class for any other reason, take it because The Chosen is on the syllabus. I envy all you APES who will get to read it for the first time this fall.
- There’s no busywork. At all. I can’t think of an assignment that felt like a complete waste of time, which was incredibly refreshing.
Now, just to clarify: this class isn’t a walk in the park. The Huck Finn satire project was the bane of my existence, and the poem explications don’t tend to be a fan favorite, either. Some days, words will just be words, and trying to find meaning in them will be like trying to pull an elephant out of a teacup. If you don’t show up to one LDS unprepared or have to completely wing an assignment or two because you didn’t read the book in time, then...well, you’re probably an alien or have figured out how to build a time machine. Congrats. Hopefully, you’ll do the aforementioned things less than me, but either way, you’ll be fine as long as you can come up with lunatic interpretations to simple stories. (No, I did not make that up, it’s actual advice from an actual human who you probably shouldn’t listen to.)
To follow that, here’s some advice that actually might help:
Tip #1: Read the books when they’re assigned, not when you need them to complete an assignment.
Tip #2: If you’re going to do the Tolkien extra credit project (assuming it’s still offered), start early. It turns out there are two smaller books inside each LoTR book, and you’ll be in for a rather unpleasant surprise if you think there’s only one and then realize each novel is twice as long as you thought it was...
Tip #3: Getting a version of Hamlet with an included translation is incredibly helpful. I’m pretty sure this isn’t cheating, and it will save you an immense amount of headache. Now, don’t take that as me saying it’s okay to just not read the Shakespeare, because that is cheating and will cause you to miss out on some truly beautiful writing, but you’ll probably appreciate the help when you’re knee-deep in the play and Horatio’s rambling about Julius Caesar and Neptune and words are just not in the order they’re supposed to be in, and you can’t figure out for the life of you how someone wears their beaver up.
Hopefully, I haven’t scared you off. I promise, in the end, it will all be worth it. You will learn how to write and think and read like never before, and you’ll have fun doing it. You’ll make great friends who love stories as much or even more than you do. You’ll get to see how the study of literature is the study of everything, because books are the stories of life, and life is complex and diverse and nuanced and messy. You’ll get to walk in the shoes of people from every corner of the earth and every background imaginable.
I wish you well on your journey, dear future APES. I hope you take this class, and I hope you fall in love with it as much as I have.
"Incredible!"Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Let me begin by saying that the AP Literature and Composition course is not merely a course for achieving a glorious score on an AP Lit. exam, it is much, much more. Miss Kay is extraordinarily adept at guiding her students into and through all that is AP Lit. How does she accomplish this miracle? For one thing, she listens to the engaging repartee of all her students with grand support, enthusiasm, and lends skillful direction to their AP Lit. adventure. I must admit that I am the type of student that must be entertained to be able to learn, which brings up one of my favorite AP Lit. course bonus factors. Once a week, you will join your classmates and Miss Kay in a live discussion via Zoom to explore a few delicious questions designed by Miss Kay and based upon the week’s literature. Miss Kay’s idea of an AP Lit. course will not drive you into insanity. You will grow a deep appreciation for the many genres of literature and including poetry. The incredible Miss Kay serves up a plentiful platter of AP Literature and Composition that is delightfully rich and welcoming, all who come to her feast will be thankful.
I will offer you a handful of tips and tricks that will enable you to survive and flourish to the heights of excellence. Do not be afraid to communicate with Miss Kay and your fellow AP Lit. comrades. The second item in my bag of tricks is annotating. You must, and I mean must, annotate while reading your novels, poems, and short stories. Consistently annotating will increase your analytical skill. This is of great value because you will be writing an essay or two for every piece of literature you read during your AP Lit. course. My next suggestion is, do not procrastinate! This does not mean that you need to get everything done at the beginning of the week, but it is important to complete one or two assignments every day because there will be weeks when you have more than a dozen items on your plate. You need to learn how to pace yourself to keep up with all the varied reading, writing, responding, and special projects that accumulate rather quickly. Now is the time to be open to a variety of literary genres even if they are not necessarily your cup of tea. In other words, keep an open mind and you may be surprised to discover a new appreciation for that one type of genre you avoided at all costs.
Miss Kay offers up a wealth of knowledge and will always have answers to all your questions. Meeting your classmates is a terrific experience. In my class, we were from different parts of the U.S. and we had the added pleasure of one international student. Our class enjoyed a wonderful feeling of community and found ourselves frequently connecting in the student chat room. One of my favorite assignments was an independent novel project. I loved this project because it had three components, a summary, a dialectical journal, and a creative component of our choosing. This project will test your organization and time management skills because it is announced and assigned over several weeks. It was a real treat reviewing each independent novel project posted by my classmates. Miss Kay’s AP Lit. course will promote a positive, rewarding, and challenging learning experience for you. I will miss my AP Lit. class and I do not think that I have ever said that about any course. Miss Kay creates a one of a kind AP Lit. course that sails to the top of the charts!
Dear Future AP English Literature Students...Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Dear Future AP Literature Students,
When I was initially looking for an AP Lit class, I was a little wary about the whole online experience and was scratching my head about the platform “Slack”.
Miss Kay, along with my fellow classmates, makes the whole experience personal and welcoming from long threads of insightful discussion to back-and-forth witty comments. She never fails to spark fun and warmth in our learning—her passion for literature completely shines through.
Some words of advice:
- September is the month of short-story bootcamp! Every short story from the “Masque of the Red Death” to “Bartleby, the Scrivener” varies in tone from suspenseful to surprising. Be especially vigilant during this month: read in advance because the mixture of reading and analyzing can pile up!
- Every handout on writing, close reading, literary terms are filled with insight—they are your friends for the AP exam.
- Slack is cool, because it shows everyone’s texts, which can be a little intimidating at first. More and more, I find that reading classmates’ discussion responses are helpful for understanding the novels/works through different perspectives.
- The Chosen was by far my favorite book and Miss Kay made the marvelous suggestion of marking every instance of the recurring themes. For every novel, this makes finding key quotes for essays much easier.
Overall, this class will prepare you for the AP exam, particularly if you put effort, but Miss Kay cares more than just this exam; she cares about increasing your appreciation for literature and learning.
I hope you enjoy this class as much as I did!
Anne Marie Z.
Review from a 2019 Satisfied StudentPosted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Well hello there students, welcome to AP English Literature! This class is totally bomb and Miss Kay is an absolute delight, you have one heck of an awesome school year ahead of you, get excited!
Advice! Something that you could do that I wasn’t really good at would be staying organized. Make lists of assignments to do, block out time in your week to do those assignments, also be aware of exactly what is being required. I personally struggle when I have to start an assignment I don’t perfectly understand and I know that is a struggle for a lot of people, so what I would do is block out time specifically for figuring out what the task is and how to do it, preferably sooner rather than later to make the rest of your time blocking more effective. I know it sounds hard, I am absolutely awful at staying organized, but I promise that if you do what I didn’t and keep track of what you need to do and when to do it then you’ll be way more successful than you would be otherwise. As a side note I took two AP classes this year and I cannot emphasize how important time management is if you are taking more than one AP class, I don’t know how some people do it while they’re doing more than two, I had a rough time but if you manage your time and always keep a firm grip on exactly what needs to be done and when to do it, it’ll be a lot easier to actually do it.
Be ready for lots of reading! I don’t know what your book lineup will be but I didn’t read a single book I didn’t like for this class this year (except maybe Hamlet, but I also didn’t actively dislike that book either so that’s a plus…) Read everything with an open mind, I came in to this class from a mostly fantasy/sci-fi YA background, at least book wise, but I was able to discover some real gems in genres I would never read of my own volition, so don’t write a book off because it isn’t on your personal reading list. Also, be ready to have your worldview challenged. Something that I’ve discovered over the course of my life but also in this class is that questioning your beliefs isn’t a bad thing, in fact it’s the best thing because finding the answers to those questions just makes your beliefs stronger. So even though we’ve read stuff and talked about stuff that have directly opposed a lot of things that I don’t agree with, my beliefs have only grown firmer because I was always able to resolve those questions. So have a questioning mind too! Also, just enjoy the reading! You’ll read a lot of really good books, read them because they’re assigned, but don’t be afraid to let yourself enjoy the story. You can always come back later and analyze the author’s technique later, but you only read a book for the first time once, don’t let technicalities ruin the reading for you.
GO TO LIVE SESSIONS! I know it may seem like such a pain to take a whole hour of your week to talk about a book that you didn’t choose to read but trust me, it’s worth it. Where else are you going to spend 45 minutes arguing about whether Gatsby or Tom was a better person or whether or not Huckleberry Finn is a good person? (Both discussions did happen by the way, both were fascinating, and I won both of them, obviously XD)
I’d say that you will likely do well in this course if 1. You have lots of free time and some self-discipline, or 2. You don’t have much free time but have lots of self-discipline and also if 1. You enjoy reading as an activity or 2. You love talking about reading with other people. It’s helpful if you have a large vocabulary, or a thesaurus while writing your papers (having a large vocabulary is handier because they won’t let you have written aids in your AP exam), it makes your writing seem a lot more professional and makes you feel better about your writing because you feel more professional.
Extra advice: Read Tolkien, Miss Kay loves Tolkien and will reference him at random times and situations, and it sometimes won’t even make sense in the context of the sentence, but if you actually understand the reference then it will make the fact that they are there that much more entertaining. Also, Tolkien is just really good. Don’t be afraid to talk about things you are going through in your DQ’s, these people don’t really know you, so they can’t really judge you. I find that the more emotional you are in the writing of the response the more emotion is conveyed in the writing, and people can feel those emotions. I’ve talked about all kinds of complicated feelings about friends, family and other books in my DQs and it’s been honestly therapeutic, and helps convey the point I’m trying to make more. Just write what you feel! It’ll also make it more fulfilling. Don’t stress to much about remembering all the different kinds of literary devices, remember alliteration, metaphor, simile, personification, visualization and perspective and you will be able to give an intelligent-sounding breakdown of almost any work you come across. Randomly look up stuff when you have questions! I once spent three hours reading about the husband of Mary Shelley (famous for writing Frankenstein) just because I got curious, it’s more fun that way.
JUST ENJOY YOURSELF! But also remember to work hard. Interact with your classmates, don’t be a stranger. Read Tolkien. Stay organized. You got this. Honestly guys the test was a cinch, do well in this class and you’ve really got nothing to worry about. Go get ‘em kids! :D
You're in for a treat!Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I welcome you to AP English Literature. From this moment forward, you shall be known as APES (AP English Students). This title holds great weight and responsibility, and we expect you to approach this course with the same reverence and tenderness as you would your favorite novel. Your guide and narrator, Miss Kay Ben-Avraham, is the best in her trade and has yet to lead me astray. Trust her and her judgement, and you shall reach new heights of literary comprehension.
A few words of advice before you begin your journey.
- First of all, take this course. The following points are rendered useless if you do not take into account this crucial step.
- Do not fear, for this course will serve to expand and cultivate a passion for literature that may or may not already exist in you. This is not another course that destroys your desire to read for months at a time.
- I already said this, I know, but trust Miss Kay. She really knows what she’s doing, she’s passionate about her work and her students, and she is one of the best teachers I’ve had over my twelve years of education. She will not hesitate to answer any questions and help her students as best she can.
- I personally hate trying to communicate with people over an online chatroom, but in this class, it’s worth it. In my class, we had six students, and by the end of the year, we were wishing happy birthdays, exchanging memes, helping each other relieve stress, providing study materials and tips, and supporting each other every step of the way. Get to know your classmates; you won’t regret it.
Just a final note before we close – Miss Kay does an excellent job of understanding that, first of all, her students are actual, real, live, people, and so they experience things like stress, emotional or mental breakdowns, and overwork, and she does her best to work with her students to avoid the aforementioned experiences. Secondly, she also recognizes that each of these real people that make up her class think and process information and ideas differently, and so often provides large-scale projects with both a creative or a practical aspect, so as not to force the creative students into the tiny, wet, smelly cardboard box that can be an academically-formatted book report, and to prevent panic in the more academically inclined students whose worst nightmare is a creative presentation. This is something that would have been instrumental in my decision in the beginning of the year, so I thought I’d share with you all.
In conclusion, be passionate, trust your teacher, throw up a hand when you need help, support your fellow APES, and take the course.
To the future AP English Literature and Composition student...Posted by Kay BenAvraham on 05/14/2023
If you are reading this, you must be combing through the class reviews in an effort to discern which class would be an ideal fit for you. Perhaps you are sitting in front of your computer, back hunched over as you scrutinize your prospective classes and pore over every word in the class descriptions. Well, you may straighten your back—this class doesn’t just prepare you for the AP exam, it also teaches you to understand and appreciate literature! You can be assured that by the end of this course, you will not be sick of reading (and if you’re like me, you’ve started a reading list instead)!
One of the most helpful things in this course is the weekly assignment letter, which lists all the assignments that are due by the end of the week. I used this to plan my week’s schedule and to keep track of all the week’s assignments. If you’re taking other courses at the same time (AP or otherwise), the weekly assignment letter will not be an annoying reminder, but an invaluable scheduling assistant. However, should you be truly unable to complete the assignments by the end of the week, Miss Kay is willing to bestow an extension (but remember to request for an extension before the deadline).
Besides the weekly assignment letter, another one of the most helpful things in this course is undoubtedly the assignments themselves! From DQs to poetry explications to timed essays to formal papers (fear not, there’s only two of them), the assignments sharpen your literary analysis and composition skills to a gleaming point. My personal favorites are the DQs and the formal papers; the short DQs (they’re only meant to take thirty minutes each) serve as fine preparation for the free-response questions on the AP exams, while the longer formal papers give you a chance to analyze your books more deeply.
If your heart has begun to sink at the prospect of spending an average of two hours a day monotonously typing up DQs and poetry explications and whatnot, be at ease! You will not bear it alone—you will have classmates as fellow companions to suffer through the course’s workload with you. Not only that, you will also meet your classmates during live discussion sessions conducted on Zoom, or chat with them via the student chatroom on the Slack classroom.
Still worried? Well, after arduously struggling through the assignments, you’ll begin to enjoy completing them! I hope that you will enjoy this class as much as I did!
Signed, Amanda Tsai