AP Help - How do I . . . ? Models and Resources

A Dialectical Journal Model

Dialectical Journal – Model by Ms. Green

(Written to help students who do not understand what I want in a Dialectical Journal.  Thank you for letting me know you needed more help!  Students who ask questions are the best students.  :D )

((Warning: Because I am typing, this is longer than it would be in your little composition book journal page.  But I’m nothing if not verbose! First I clarify the theme, write about it directly, and then write related ideas. Words / phrases that were unfamiliar to me are defined in the last three lines.))

The Iliad

Author: Homer

Page / Lines:  p. 70 Lines: 106-10



“But looking darkly at him swift-footed Achilleus answered: ‘No more entreating of me, you dog, by knees or parents.  I wish only that my spirit and fury would drive me to hack your meat away and eat it raw for the things that you have done to me.'”

   The theme in this quote is unbridled rage, namely, the rage of Achilleus (Achilles). 

    He is so angry over the death of his beloved companion, Patroklos, that he cannot speak on honorable terms to Hektor.  At the beginning of their duel to the death, Hektor asks for an agreement of terms to take the armor of the loser but return the body of the fallen warrior to their people.  Achilleus refuses.  He will not bargain with Hektor any more than a wolf would bargain with a lamb.  In his hatred and unchecked anger, he cannot even allow an honorable burial for Hektor.  To him, Hektor is little more than a dog now.  He is so angry he wants to tear him apart and devour him.

   Of note, it was a belief in ancient Greece that bodies which did not have proper funeral rites, would never have their spirits at peace.  This was one of the major issues in Antigone with Polyneices.  Those without funeral rites would not be permitted in the underworld. 

    Essentially, by refusing to agree to respect Hektor’s body, when he perished from their fight, he was damning Hektor’s spirit to become a ghost and denying him an afterlife as a hero of Troy.  His anger was so strong that he wanted it to torment Hektor even after his death.

    Is his fiery anger why he was characterized with red hair?  

    I always wondered if Achilles and Patrocles were more than just really close friends.  Based on his freak-out against Hector, and the way he pouted (refused to fight) when Briseis was taken from him, I’d think they were more than friends because he let his temper completely take over.  Perhaps it is a special bond between warriors who fight and die for one another.  In the movie, Troy, they were cousins. 

New Vocabulary:  Achaians – Greeks

Skaian gates – the main gates of Troy

Deiphobos – He is one of Hector’s many brothers, who Athena disguised herself as to lure Hector to Achilles.

AP Reading Log

(Thank you brave student who came to me after class asking for help about the simple yet complex AP reading log.)

Read a book from our AP Reading List.  Read 100 pages a week.  Our goal is to complete a novel every 3-4 weeks, depending on the length of the book you have chosen.

  • You can divide books that are within 50 pages of the next hundred into smaller reading sections.  For example a book with 250 pages would be ~83 pages a week for 3 weeks. 
  • A book with 374 pages is ~93 pages for 4 weeks. 
  • But if it's an end count of 49 or lower, sub-divide it into fewer weeks.  Example: A book with 312 pages is 104 pages a week for 3 weeks.  A 227 page book is about ~113 pages a week for 2 weeks.

If you read the texts with e-books, they need actual page numbers that correspond to a book.  Screen count does not = pages.  If you can't figure it out, get a page count from amazon.com and then divide the book by chapters accordingly. 

Examples: You have a 15 chapter e-book that's 300 pages long in paperback.  You will read 5 chapters a week for 3 weeks.  If you have a 12 chapter e-book that's 232 pages long in paperback, you will read 6 chapters a week for 2 weeks.  If you have a 23 chapter book, that's 415 pages long in paperback, you will read 6 chapters for 3 weeks, and the remaining 5 chapters the 4th week.  Total pages of the novel needs to be the paperback count from a reliable source like amazon.com--not your e-reader or phone's screen count. 

Quote: p. # ____

1 for Theme

1 for a Poignant Passage

Write a quote EXACTLY like it is in the book with the same spelling and punctuation.  The sentence must be complete not fragments of dialogue. Include the page number.  

Quote: You need a quote that shows a Theme and a quote that shows or strongly implies a Poignant Passage.                                                                    

Response: (3 sentences)


First quote, clearly state the theme like 'the theme is_______ ' then explain how the quote aptly illustrates that theme and its impact on the text

Next quote, explain how the quote explains and demonstrates a poignant, emotionally meaningful passage of the text with a character and how that moment or event influences the plot(s) and characters.

Make sure to use quotation marks properly when citing textual evidence for your two quotes. You must use complete sentences for your citations, not fragments of dialogue.

(Summary – What happened?  Who did it involve?  Name any characters.  If the story is first person and speaker is not named, you can call them the narrator. In non-fiction, the speaker is usually the author. One paragraph, indent the first line, 5 sentences minimum.  Do not ramble in your summary.  5-7 sentences is recommended.  Do not summarize the quotes; they're already explained on the front of the reading log.)


Biblical Allusions and Greco-Roman Myths

Much of Western literature, British Commonwealth and American, makes reference to the Bible and ancient mythology.  Knowing these textual references will greatly aid students in being able to unlock the depths hidden within literary fiction.  The College Board frequently requires that students be able to glean allusions from reading passages on the exam.

Non-fiction authors also make use of allusions to these ‘commonly known’ parables and characters, which a well-read audience is expected to understand.  

Remember, this is not religious study.  I am not teaching you what to believe.  I am showing you what to understand.  It is a literature study, and these are the stories and characters you should know.





Creation Story; the Fall

Genesis 1, 2, 3

The Beatitudes

Matthew 5: 1-12

of Man




Cain and Abel

Genesis 4: 1-16

John the Baptist and

Matthew 14: 1-12





The Flood

Genesis 6: 9-25

Rich man/Camel

Matthew 19: 16-26

Golden Calf

Exodus 32

Judas and Silver Coins

Matthew 26: 14-16

Jepthah’s Oath

Judges 11


Matthew 27: 29-34

Samson and Delilah

Judges 16

Gethsemane and

Mark 14: 32-42



Temptation of Christ


David and Goliath

1 Samuel: 17

Parable of the Soils

Luke 8: 4-15

King Solomon’s

1 Kings 3

The Good Samaritan

Luke 11: 29-38





Patience of Job

Job 1, 2, 3, 40, 41, 42

Parable of the Lost

Luke 15: 1-22



Sheep and the Prodigal






Shadow of Death

Psalms 23


John 11

Seven Deadly Sins

Proverbs 6: 6-19


The Book of





 You do not have to read the WHOLE Bible, but it's a good idea to be familiar with all of these reference points.  They are common textual allusions.


Greek and Roman Myths



Poseidon, Neptune,

Hades, Pluto

Zeus, Jupiter


Proteus, Triton





Athena, Minerva

Artemis, Diana,





Baucis and Philemon

Aphrodite, Venus, Eros,

Orpheus and Eurydice

Daedalus and Icarus


Cupid, Psyche



Pyramus and Thisbe


Hermes, Mercury




Jason and the






Odysseus, Penelope,


Fauns, satyrs, maenads,

The Graces, Muses, and







Persephone and






These stories are awesome!  I love all the Greek myths. 

Knowing these references, not by heart, but by being familiar with them, will unlock a whole new world of textual understanding in Western writing.   As well as prepare you for the AP exam, this will aid you in understanding your future literary reading in both fiction and non-fiction. 

Grammar Mini-Lessons

Our class guide to clean, college-level writing is attached below as "The Goals of Clean College Writing."  It is a .docx.  If you cannot read / access a .docx file at home, you will need to print it in the school library. 

We will refer to and annotate these Mini-lessons as needed. You will need your own copy.  Print it in color if you can.  Ink is expensive, so bring some pocket change to pay for the library copies.

Questions about Works Cited?


- this site stays up to date for MLA

One of the complaints of universities for their incoming freshmen is that they still do not understand MLA (Modern Language Association) format. We will use this format in a variety of papers. This is the best source for the latest rules and examples you will need for any kind of Works Cited or in-text citations that will be required of you.


Remember, a Works Cited is for the works you actually directly cited (took quotes from) in the body of your paper. If you only cite one source, it's Work Cited.

A bibliography is a list of the text references you referred to, whether they were directly cited (quoted) or not, in the development of your paper.


Make sure you know which type of format is required for your paper some professors may ask for both.


In-text citations
As with a Works Cited, always look for the most current MLA format. Rules change and textbooks are dated. 
Typically, an in-text citation is the author's last name and the page number in parenthesis followed by a period. 
Example: Amid the ruin of man's war, nature continued to thrive, "the skylark in this region has stuck tenaciously to the meadows and crop-lands that have been seamed and bisected with trenches and honeycombed with shell-holes" (Saki 1057). 
- from "Birds on the Western Front" in our Prentice Hall textbook
When the author's name is not available, one briefly refers to the title of the work and the page number.  If it is clarified in the sentence who or what work is being referred to, only the page number is needed in the parenthesis.  In poetry, one refers to the author's last name and the line numbers, however, longer verse writing may need more information, see below:

For verse plays, the MLA Handbook says:

"In citing commonly studied verse plays and poems, omit page numbers altogether and cite by division (act, scene, canto, book, part) and line, with periods separating the various numbers"


In an example it gives for a citation of Act 5, scene 1, lines 5-12 of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, the in-text citation appears as: (Ant. 5.1.5-12). The handbook states that the titles of famous plays are often abbreviated.  (This is a special exception in lieu of the author's last name which is typically used for almost all other in-text parenthetical citations.)


In Oedipus Rex, the entire play is 1 Act.

(Oed. Pro.10-12) = Oedipus Rex, Prologue, Lines 10-12

(Oed. Exo.15-7) = Oedipus Rex, Exodos, Lines 15-17

(Oed. 2.2-5) = Oedipus Rex, Scene 2, Lines 2-5


In Othello, it is much simpler and follows the format above exactly.

(Oth. 4.2.2-5) = Othello, Act 4, Scene 2, Lines 2-5


When quoting multiple lines from a verse play or verse poem in an essay, you must place a / to show where a verse line ends. You MUST have a space before and after you place a forward slash for a line break. Watch your spacing in your parenthetical citations as well.  It is a common student error to space it incorrectly.  Pay attention!


Example: Othello’s low self-esteem is evident in the lines, “her name, that was fresh / as Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black / as mine own face” (Oth. 3.3.387-9). He has compared his own dark skin to being dirty and shameful like Desdemona’s reputation has become from the words of Iago. He doubts his wife’s faithfulness because he doubts his own merit.
- this site stays up to date for MLA

AP Lit. Test Calculator

Use the Calculator to figure out how many multiple-choice you need correct and what kind of essay scores you need to achieve the score you want:




Questions about Poetic Forms and Meter?
Check out the attachment below

Othello in 10 pages
Check out the attached graphic novel. It's a condensed edition of Othello to help you understand Shakespeare's play.  This does NOT replace reading the play. It is just to aid comprehension.

Need more models or examples?  Let me know what you need here.

Remember to EXPLORE my page links, your homework posts, and Edmodo.  Many answers may already be there, but if you need more clarification, I'll put it here.