for incoming freshmen …

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To learn some new words throughout the summer, join up with our class on Vocab.com with the class code 45ZYDFD. This is optional but highly recommended; work at your own pace to master new words.

To get a head-start, complete this writing diagnostic and, if you’d like, some subsequent skill practice over the summer: just join up with our class on Quill.org with the class code dollar-goose. Once you complete the diagnostic, Mr. Benton will open up some activities to help you brush on your conventions.

And — while there’s no assigned reading — I highly encourage all of my incoming students to find books of their choice to read over the summer. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some recommendations from this year’s Florida Teens Read list.

Oh, and here’s the syllabus for curious minds.

Should you need any help at any point, or if you have any questions about the year ahead, feel free to email Mr. Benton at bentonro@pcsb.org.

Literature Improves Thinking

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Are you uncomfortable with ambiguity? It’s a common condition, but a highly problematic one. The compulsion to quell that unease can inspire snap judgments, rigid thinking, and bad decision-making.

Fortunately, new research suggests a simple antidote for this affliction: Read more literary fiction.

A trio of University of Toronto scholars, led by psychologist Maja Djikic, report that people who have just read a short story have less need for what psychologists call “cognitive closure.” Compared with peers who have just read an essay, they expressed more comfort with disorder and uncertainty—attitudes that allow for both sophisticated thinking and greater creativity.

“Exposure to literature,” the researchers write in the Creativity Research Journal, “may offer a (way for people) to become more likely to open their minds.”

Djikic and her colleagues describe an experiment featuring 100 University of Toronto students. After arriving at the lab and providing some personal information, the students read either one of eight short stories or one of eight essays. The fictional stories were by authors including Wallace Stegner, Jean Stafford, and Paul Bowles; the non-fiction essays were by equally illustrious writers such as George Bernard Shaw and Stephen Jay Gould.

Afterwards, each participant filled out a survey measuring their emotional need for certainty and stability. They expressed their agreement or disagreement with such statements as “I don’t like situations that are uncertain” and “I dislike questions that can be answered in many different ways.” Continue reading

Literature Improves Empathy


Have you ever felt that reading a good book makes you better able to connect with your fellow human beings? If so, the results of a new scientific study back you up, but only if your reading material is literary fiction – pop fiction or non-fiction will not do.

Great Expectations from great literature … empathy occurs in the spaces between characters, such as Joe and Pip, pictured here in the 2012 film adaptation. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex Features

Empathy occurs in the spaces between characters, such as Joe and Pip in Great Expectations, pictured here in the 2012 film adaptation. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex Features

Psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, at the New School for Social Research in New York, have proved that reading literary fiction enhances the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions, a crucial skill in navigating complex social relationships.

Continue reading

Week 4:9 (May 16–20)

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Freshmen: Spring Exam Study Guide, Whole-Work Literary Analysis Thesis Frame, Colormarking Guide, One-Page Outline, LA Essay Rubric, Tone WordsInteractive E-text of Macbeth, Audioplay of Macbeth, Plain E-text of Macbeth

Sophomores: Poetry Close ReadingTone Packet, Presentation Rubric, Writing Handbook, Tone Words, Thesis Frame for Literary AnalysisColormarking Guide

Diploma Support: Semester Grade Chart, MLA Sample Paper, APA Sample Paper, DS Contract, IB Academic Guidelines, IB Honor CodeSay Something, EBSCO HostGale Databases

Week 4:8 (May 9–13)

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Freshmen: TC Thesis Frame (for Macbeth), Colormarking Guide, One-Page Outline, LA Essay Rubric, Tone WordsInteractive E-text of Macbeth, Audioplay of Macbeth, Plain E-text of Macbeth; Performance Responsibilities: A1–2, A3–4, B3–4

Sophomores: Poetry Close Reading (for 5/11), Review Videos, Essay Set, Tone Packet, Presentation Rubric, Writing Handbook, Tone Words, Thesis Frame for Analysis EssayColormarking Guide; Rhetorical Analysis: Space-Cat ChartRA RubricSynthesis: Synthesis Rubric; Argument: Argument Rubric

Diploma Support: Diploma Support Contract, Rotation Calendar, IB Academic Guidelines, IB Honor Code, Advising Meeting Dates, Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, EBSCO HostGale Databases

Week 4:7 (May 2–6)

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Freshmen: TC Thesis Frame (for Macbeth), Colormarking Guide, One-Page Outline, LA Essay Rubric, Tone WordsInteractive E-text of Macbeth, Audioplay of Macbeth, Plain E-text of Macbeth; Performance Responsibilities: A1–2, A3–4, B1–2, B3–4

Sophomores: MLA TemplateTone Packet, Presentation Rubric, Writing Handbook, Tone WordsThesis FramesColormarking Guide; Rhetorical Analysis: Space-Cat ChartRA RubricRA OutlineSynthesis: Synthesis Rubric; Argument: Argument Rubric, Topic Generator, Thesis Padlet

Diploma Support: Diploma Support Contract, Rotation Calendar, IB Academic Guidelines, IB Honor Code, Advising Meeting Dates, Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, EBSCO HostGale Databases

Week 4:6 (Apr. 25–29)

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Freshmen: TC Thesis Frame, Colormarking Guide, One-Page Outline, LA Essay Rubric, Tone WordsInteractive E-text of Macbeth, Audioplay of Macbeth, Plain E-text of Macbeth, “The Masque of the Red Death” Close ReadingTheme-Tracing Task; Performance Responsibilities: A1–2, A3–4, B1–2, B3–4

Sophomores: MLA TemplateTone Packet, Presentation Rubric, Writing Handbook, Tone WordsThesis FramesColormarking Guide; Rhetorical Analysis: Space-Cat ChartRA RubricRA OutlineSynthesis: Synthesis Rubric; Argument: Argument Rubric

Diploma Support: Diploma Support Contract, Rotation Calendar, IB Academic Guidelines, IB Honor Code, Advising Meeting Dates, Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, EBSCO HostGale Databases

Week 4:5 (Apr. 18–22)

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Freshmen: TC Thesis Frame, Colormarking Guide, One-Page Outline, Annotation GuideTone Words, LA Essay Rubric, Power Words for Literary AnalysisInteractive E-text of Macbeth, Audioplay of Macbeth, Plain E-text of Macbeth, “Reading Shakespeare” Packet, “The Masque of the Red Death” Close ReadingTheme-Tracing Task; Performance Responsibilities: A1–2, A3–4, B1–2, B3–4

Sophomores: MLA TemplateTone Packet, Presentation Rubric, Writing Handbook, Tone WordsThesis Frames, Weaving & Citing ExamplesColormarking Guide; Rhetorical Analysis: Space-Cat ChartRA RubricRA OutlineSynthesis: Marc & Carly Synthesis Task, Synthesis Rubric; Argument: coming soon

Diploma Support: Diploma Support Contract, Rotation Calendar, IB Academic Guidelines, IB Honor Code, Advising Meeting Dates, Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, EBSCO HostGale Databases

Week 4:4 (Apr. 11–14)

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Freshmen: TC Thesis Frame, Colormarking Guide, One-Page Outline, Annotation GuideTone Words, LA Essay Rubric, Power Words for Literary AnalysisInteractive E-text of Macbeth, Audioplay of Macbeth, Plain E-text of Macbeth, “Reading Shakespeare” Packet, “The Masque of the Red Death” Close ReadingTheme Tracing Task; Performance Responsibilities: A1–2, A3–4, B1–2, B3–4

Sophomores: MLA TemplateTone Packet, Presentation Rubric, Writing Handbook, Tone WordsThesis Frames, Weaving & Citing ExamplesColormarking Guide; Rhetorical Analysis: Space-Cat ChartRA RubricRA OutlineSynthesis: Marc & Carly Synthesis Task, Synthesis Rubric

Diploma Support: Diploma Support Contract, Rotation Calendar, IB Academic Guidelines, IB Honor Code, Advising Meeting Dates, Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, EBSCO HostGale Databases