Essay Contest

The Association of Justices of the Supreme Court of the State of New York and the New York Law Journal have partnered with the New York City Dept. of Education to sponsor the Sixteenth annual essay contest for 10th, 11th and 12th grade high school students.  Ten students will win the opportunity to intern for one week with a Justice of the Supreme Court and earn a $100.00 gift card.  A maximum of ten entries from each school will be considered. One of the winning essays will be published in the New York Law Journal, a legal periodical published by the ALM.  
The Law Day theme for 2017, is “The 14th Amendment:  Transforming American Democracy.”
The 2017 theme provides the opportunity to explore the many ways that the Fourteenth Amendment has reshaped American law and society.  Ratified during Reconstruction a century and a half ago, the Fourteenth Amendment serves as the cornerstone of landmark civil rights legislation, the foundation for numerous court decisions protecting fundamental rights, and a  inspiration for all those who advocate for equal justice under law.
Students should write a 500 word essay presenting a compelling discussion on the topic with special focus on the importance and impact of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The following websites may assist your students in their research – other resources may be used.  All sources should be credited.
Law Day Topic
General Legal Resources
 1.  New York State Courts Legal Research Portal
2.   Free Online Law Review/Journal Articles
3.   New York Law Journal
4.   The United States Constitution with Commentary
1 New York State Consolidated Laws
2.   Law Library of Congress
3.   New York Courts Law Libraries
 Case Law 
1.   New York State Court Case Law
2.   Federal Court Case Law

AP Workshop in your Borough

AP English Literature and AP English Language
April 1, 2017
April 22, 2017
April 29, 2017
AP Environmental Science and AP Biology
April 1, 2017
April 22, 2017
April 29, 2017
AP Calculus, AP Statistics and AP United States History
April 1, 2017
April 22, 2017
April 29, 2017

Grammar Workshop


Objectives: Students will use the edit their essays after the grammar lesson. Students will also use the rubric to help them finalize the essay.

Aim: How do I vary sentence structure in my writing?


Do Now:

Click the Workshop Link to review some grammar rules.

Mini Lesson:

1. Writing sentences with  various structure

Please click the link to see the workshop contents-

2. Using transitions

Independent Practice

Select a specific area you feel you need support with, go to that page directly.

College Fairs

College Fairs

Exploring Issues through OpEd

Explore the Issues: Editorials & Columns In order to become a “global citizen,” you must actually become aware of local, national and global issues. Your task will be to explore topics via opinion pieces. Within each topic you must identify an issue of interest and find a column or editorial. You have been provided a list of columnists, publications and categories from which to choose. This is not an exhaustive list.

Please ask if you search all of the options below and are still struggling. Please type your précis paragraph and attached the annotated column.

Label the topic and issue you’ve chosen at the top of your précis paragraph.

Example: Sports–Doping

Possible Columnists or Opinion Pages

  • David Ignatius, The Washington Post
  • George F. Will, The Washington Post
  • Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post
  • David Brooks, The New York Times
  • Maureen Dowd, The New York Times
  • Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post
  • Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, NPR
  • Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post
  • Dave Barry, The Miami Hearld
  • Paul Krugman, The New York Times
  • Robert J. Samuelson, The Washington Post
  • The Boston Globe Opinion Page
  • Wired Magazine Opinion Page
  • The Week’s Opinion Page

Possible Topic Categories

• Issues of War (PTSD, Government Funding, Medal of Honor)

• Education (SAT scores, college applications, class sizes)

• Popular Culture (TV programming)

• Science and Technology (Apple vs. Samsung, )

• Politics and Partisanship (Presidential election, political gaffes, fact checking)

• Sports (Lance Armstrong, Doping,

• Science & Environment

Column #1-Annotations & Précis:__________________

Column #2-Annotations & Précis:__________________

Column #3-Annotations & Précis __________________


For each column, annotate directly on the column over the following:

  • Speaker-Remember it is not enough to simply name the speaker. What can you say about the speaker based on the evidence, the writing style, the topic etc.? What does the speaker value?
  • Occasion– Be certain to discuss and record both the larger occasion, that is, those issues or ideas that must have made the speaker think about this incident, as well as the immediate occasion, whatever made the author decided to focus on it in their writing.
  • Audience-To whom is this writing directed? It is not enough to say: “Anyone who reads it.” You will want to identify a certain audience by describing some of its characteristics. Be specific. The audience will rarely be “working adults.” Consider party affiliation, societal values, religious beliefs, etc.
  • Purpose- The purpose could be purely a personal one (i.e. to assuage guilt, to boast, etc.), but it also could be direct towards the audience, in which case you will have to decide what the message is and how the author wants this audience to respond.
  • Subject-What is the topic of the author’s writing. You should be able to identify this easily based on the writing’s focus.
  • Tone- Try to choose a description of the tone that fits the piece as a whole. You must also include specific words or phrases from the text and explain how they support your statement. Instead of using vague generalities like, “realistic” and “happy,” consider specific adjectives like, “pragmatic” and “complacent.”

Précis Paragraph

After you have completed these annotations, construct a précis paragraph for each editorial.

  • 1. The first sentence includes the name of the writer (usually including a descriptive phrase); the work’s genre, title, and date of publication; a rhetorically accurate verb (“asserts,” “argues,” “implies,” “posits,” etc., but not “writes” or “states”); and a that clause containing the major assertion (thesis statement) of the work.
  • 2. The second sentence provides an explanation of how the writer develops and/or supports the thesis, usually in chronological order.
  • 3. The third sentence includes a statement of the writer’s apparent purpose followed by an in order to phrase. It should assess what the writer wanted the audience to do or to feel as a result of reading the work.
  • 4. The fourth sentence describes the intended audience and/or the relationship the writer establishes with the audience. This sentence should consider how the language  of the work excludes or appeals to certain audiences. It may also report the writer’s tone.

Sample Précis

In 2005’s “Cheating is a National Problem,” the editorial staff of USA Today implies that the epidemic of cheating among students directly correlates to those examples set on a national level by business executives. Corrupt business practices are specifically highlighted via statistics from the Pew Research Center. USA Today’s piece suggests that cheating is a reflection of widespread deceitfulness in order to convince the audience that dishonesty is something learned in a larger setting than just the classroom. The audience consists of Americans worried about the moral decline of this country; the tone towards “cheaters” is one of warning and disdain.

SOAPSTONE Rhetorical Analysis Strategy

SOAPSTONE: A method for analyzing discourse (speeches, essays, editorials, other writings) Please number and label each response. Each section should be two-three sentences minimum.

Provide specific textual support and analysis for each response.

  1. 1. S – Speaker: Discuss the authority and credibility of the speaker / writer. How does the speaker establish his or her ethos in the speech / passage? Explain specific ways that the speaker / writer helps to define him or herself as a trustworthy and/or qualified messenger.
  2. 2. O – Occasion: Analyze the reason(s) the writer / speaker is choosing to approach the topic at this particular moment in time. Is he / she writing / speaking in reaction to a specific event or person? Discuss how the occasion is revealed in the speech /passage.
  3. 3. A – Audience: Explain to whom this piece is directed. How do you know who the audience is? How is the audience defined? Discuss how the speaker / writer demonstrates understanding of the audience and how he or she uses that understanding to accomplish his or her goals.
  4. 4. P – Purpose: Analyze the purpose / argument / claim of the speaker / writer. Explore the purpose beyond its basic informative nature. You must identify at least one specific action expected of the audience. Discuss how the purpose is revealed in the passage.
  5. 5. S – Subject: Explain the general topic, content, and ideas contained in the text. Does the speaker / writer explicitly state the subject or is it implied?
  6. 6. Tone: Analyze the attitude of the speaker / writer. Tone extends meaning beyond the literal. Find tone in the author’s diction, syntax, structure, and imagery. Give specifics of the tone of the author and discuss how the tone affects the effectiveness of the passage. Use your list of tone words to pinpoint the specific tone(s) of the piece.

Argument Exercises

AP Language & Composition-Journal Directions Quarter #2:

Argument & Argument Analysis

1. Argument Construction You will be given a question that demands you respond using your own reading, knowledge and observations as evidence. For the most part, these questions will pose moral/ethical dilemma Similar to an AP Argument prompt you will be asked (in a shorter piece of writing) to establish your own point of view and support it with detailed evidence.

  • Do’s: • Thoughtful argumentation that appropriately presents your point of view • Creative and persuasive use of language • Appropriate formatting (Claim, Evidence, Commentary) • Evidence drawn from reading, observations, appropriate evidence categories
  • Don’ts: • Personal Pronouns • Overzealous use of language • Lack of substantiated proof

2. Argument Analysis You will be given a short excerpt, essay or article to assess. Your response will be asked to examine both the “pros” and “cons.” You will in essence, to the best of your ability, look for what the author does well and where their argument is flawed. For this type of journal you will be required to SOAPSTONE the essay and include it in your journal.

  • Do’s: • Thoughtful argumentation that appropriately presents the pros and cons of the argument • Creative and persuasive use of language • Appropriate formatting (Claim, Evidence, Commentary) • Writing that assesses sources validity, language, organization, evidence, etc.

Don’ts: • Personal Pronouns • Anger at either side—be as logical as possible • Lack of substantiated evidence as proof Length for either type of journal must be 4-6 sentences minimum.

Prompt #1

Justice Argument Prompt In “Justice and the Conscience” abolitionist Theodore Parker comments that, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” A hundred year later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. extended Parker’s argument. He added that this “arc of justice” does not bend voluntarily. It is dependent upon thoughtful action despite personal consequences. In a well written essay, examine the relationship between justice and personal sacrifice.

  1. Deconstructing the Prompt
  2. Annotate the prompt.
  3. Write down notes/ideas/insight that will be of use to you as you decipher the prompt and task.
  4.  In your own words paraphrase the task presented in the second paragraph of the prompt. You cannot use any of the words in used by the College Board. Be concise and accurate in your writing.
  5. Write three different thesis statements before you settle. 3.

A. Thesis #1-Defend the argument in the prompt.
B. Thesis #2-Challenge the argument in the prompt
C. Thesis #3-Qualify the argument in the prompt.

Type of Evidence Evidence Summarize Comment
Identify the evidence’s category. History, Literature, Current Events, Popular Culture, etc. Identify the type of evidence specifically. Name the person, place, event, etc. Provide a one sentence statement of background Explain how the evidence relates to the prompt and what the importance is culturally/socially.






Argument (Evaluating Pros/Cons)

In Eric Schlosser’s epilogue to Fast Food Nation, he argues that America is great because of its ideals, its morality, its ethics. Examine the excerpt below and consider the categories he chooses to identify as representative of American accomplishment.

Many of America’s greatest accomplishments stand in complete defiance of the free market: the prohibition of child labor, the establishment of a minimum wage, the creation of wilderness areas and national parks, the construction of dams, bridges, roads, churches, schools, and universities.

In a well-written essay evaluate the pros and cons of Schlosser’s argument that America’s greatness is not tied to corporate monopolies and the free market economy.


Argument Analysis

Read the excerpt below taken from Elliott Currie’s The Road to Whatever: Middle-Class Culture and the Crisis of Adolescence. Currie is a professor of sociology and criminology at the University of California Irvine and was a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction. Currie argues that middle class adolescents in the United States struggle because their success is not measured by the quality of their character but instead by their “wins.”

In a well-written essay, evaluate the pros and cons of Currie’s argument.

It is not sufficient to be simply a “good kid”—or to be hardworking, courageous, or generous, all qualities that might be expected to give adolescents a firm sense that they are fundamentally worthwhile. Instead, too much rides on their ability to rank high on just a few scales of worth, which, in the American middle class, typically involve some sort of competitive achievement—outdoing others in school, sports, or whatever arena is considered most important in the struggle for status and prestige. For adolescents who grow up in the culture of contingent worth, it is rarely good enough merely to do well; they have to do better than others. As a result, there is always hanging over their heads the worry that someone out there is doing even better. For them adolescent life is experienced as, in Kafka’s phrase, a “court in perpetual session.”

The fundamental problem for youth raised in such a culture is that not everyone can beat everyone else: only a few can win even most of the time. Thus, this value system sets up most of its adherents for failure. Where personal worth is necessarily a scarce commodity, there will inevitably be a great many people who think of themselves as relatively worthless. Every culture, to be sure, has standards by which its members are ranked, and in every culture it is possible to fail, to fall short. But what is unusual about the culture in which many American adolescents grow up is how narrowly the standards of success are drawn and how total the effect of failing to meet them can be, how completely one is defined by one’s relative position in this competitive struggle for preeminence. There is no natural limit to the number of children who can be loyal, honest, caring, or many other things that a less constricted culture might deem important and worthy of respect.

Rhetorical Analysis Exercises

Rhetorical Analysis Exercises

#1 Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
Read and annotate the passage. Answer the accompanying questions.

In the predawn darkness of August 26, 1929, in the back bedroom of a small house in Torrance, California, a twelve-year-old boy sat up in bed, listening. There was a sound coming from outside, growing ever louder. It was a huge, heavy rush, suggesting immensity, a great parting of air. It was coming from directly above the house. The boy swung his legs off his bed, raced down the stairs, slapped open the back door, and loped onto the grass. The yard was otherworldly, smothered in unnatural darkness, shivering with sound. The boy stood on the lawn beside his older brother, head thrown back, spellbound.
1. The first sentence consists of four clauses. They are numbered below.
Sentence: In the predawn darkness of August 26, 1929, (1)in the back bedroom of a small house in Torrance, California(2),  a twelve-year-old boy sat up in bed(3), listening(4).
a). How is “predawn darkness” different from early evening darkness or middle of the night darkness?
b). What importance is there in describing the house as “small” and the boy’s bedroom as in the “back” of the house?
c). Why might it be important to identify the boy’s age? Why is twelve a  significant age?
d). What type of emphasis does Hillenbrand create by separating the word “listening” from the rest of the sentence?
2. Hillenbrand makes uses of a series of verbs to describe the boy’s actions. He “swung,” “raced,” “slapped,” and “loped” from his bedroom to the backyard. What do these verbs tell you about the boy’s character?

Task: Examine your responses to the close reading questions that accompany the passage. Construct a written response that makes use of those observations.

Prompt: In a well-developed paragraph, analyze the rhetorical strategies Hillenbrand uses to characterize the house and the boy.

Writing Revision: Your topic sentence or claim should appear at the beginning of the paragraph. Revise it so that it includes better vocabulary and a stronger argument.


#2 Five Days at Memorial, Sheri Fink

Read and annotate the passage. Answer the accompanying questions.

At last through the broken windows, the pulse of helicopter rotors and airboat propellers set the summer morning air throbbing with the promise of rescue. Floodwaters unleashed by Hurricane Katrina had marooned hundreds of people at the hospital, where they had now spent four days. Doctors and nurses milled in the foul-smelling second-floor lobby. Since the storm, they had barely slept, surviving on catnaps, bottled water, and rumors. Before them lay a dozen or so mostly elderly patients on soiled, sweat-soaked stretchers.

1. What does the phrase “at last” suggest about the state of affairs at the hospital?
2. Fink describes those marooned at the hospital as surviving on “catnaps, bottled water, and rumors.” Explain what the items in the list convey about the mental and physical state of the doctors and nurses.
3. The final sentence of the paragraph is a fragment.
Sentence: Before them lay a dozen or so mostly elderly patients on soiled, sweat-soaked stretchers.
a). Why might Fink choose to save the description of hospital patients, the reason the hospital exists, for the end of the paragraph and then provide only a fragmentary description?
b). Instead of describing the “elderly patients,” Fink describes the stretchers. Explain the effect of Fink’s description and why she chooses to describe objects instead of

Task: Examine your responses to the close reading questions that accompany the passage. Construct a written response that makes use of those observations.
Prompt: In a well-developed paragraph, analyze how Fink’s language contributes to her argument about hospital, its employees, and its patients.

Writing Revision: Examine how you have incorporated evidence in your writing. Rewrite your lease effective evidence sentence so that it more concisely introduces the evidence and cites a brief reference to the text.


Exercise #3

The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls

I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster. It was just after dark. A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming out of the manholes, and people hurried along the sidewalks with their collars turned up. I was stuck in traffic two blocks from the party where I was heading.
1. In the first sentence, Jeanette Walls omits using the pronoun “my” when describing her mother. She also chooses to capitalize “Mom” when she doesn’t need to do so. What do these two rhetorical choices tell you about how Walls’ views her mother?
2. The phrase “wondering if I had overdressed for the evening” is completely at odds with the phrase “saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.” What is the effect of this contrast and why does Walls choose to juxtapose her thoughts about evening wear against her mother’s
dumpster diving?
3. Examine the bolded language in the sentence below.
Sentence: A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming out of the manholes, and people hurried along the sidewalks with their collars turned up.
a). What does this language tell you about the setting of Walls’ story?
b). Explain why the setting is of such importance when introducing Walls’ mother who is “rooting around in a Dumpster.”

Task: Examine your responses to the close reading questions that accompany the passage. Construct a written response that makes use of those observations.
Prompt: In a well-developed paragraph, analyze how the rhetorical strategies employed by Walls characterize this unexpected sighting of her mother.

Writing Revision: Highlight your first piece of evidence and the commentary that follows it. Identify what your analysis is lacking and revise/rewrite your commentary.