Topic of the Week

December 4, 2020

Week 12:  Word of the Year

Every year, Oxford Languages, the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), chooses what it considers the “word of the year,” a selection that is meant to “reflect the ethos, mood or preoccupations” of the past 12 months. In 2019, it was “climate emergency.” In 2018, it was “toxic.” In 2017, it was “youthquake.”

But this year is different. Instead of crowning a single word as the winner, Oxford has chosen to honor the coronavirus pandemic’s swift and widespread affect on the English language.

Read the following article: Word of the Year?

In a thoughtful response of at least 250 words, first answer these two questions:  How does Oxford typically select its word of the year? On what data and evidence does it base its choice?  Next, come up with your own word for the year?  What would be your designated choice for 2020.  Justify your choice.



November 20, 2020

Week 11:  The Privacy Project

How much is known about you?  How sure are you that your personal information is not being cataloged by a cyber data collector?  As we continue to read and discuss 1984 and the issues of privacy, it is good to be better informed about the nature of surveillance and data gathering in our own society.

The topic of privacy is close to a daily concern in the news.  The Privacy Project was a monthslong initiative to explore technology and its role in our private lives. Online Journalism awards writes, “In the midst of these swirling currents around the issue of privacy, The Times launched a first-of-its-kind effort to both educate the public and influence the national conversation around privacy and technology in three areas: online tracking, genetics and facial recognition.”

The articles and essays that followed are numerous.  Rather than discuss one selection, your task is peruse the list and choose an article that interests you.  Second, read the article carefully and consider the information/opinion presented.   Then, in a thoughtful response of at least 250 words summarize the highlights of the article. Discuss your reaction to the information or whether you agree/disagree with the opinion offered.  Follow this link to find the list of articles/op eds:  The Privacy Project    Be sure to scroll through the whole list before choosing — it is lengthy.



November 13, 2020

Week 10: Video Games

Almost exactly 35 years ago, Super Mario Bros., the iconic video game from Nintendo, debuted — making a high-jumping plumber named Mario the Japanese video game company’s equivalent of Mickey Mouse.

Back in 1985, Super Mario Bros. was revelatory.  Now there are many iterations of the original as well as countless other games.

Are you a gamer? What do you like about playing video games?  If you’re not a gamer, why not?  I confess that I am not a video gamer, never have been.  However, the Mario anniversary has shown up in the news (NY Times, CNN, and was even a risque sketch on SNL last weekend.  So, I am curious about the topic of gaming.

Read the OpED – Do Video Games Deserve the Bad Rap?

Respond in a thoughtful paragraph of at least 250 words that addresses any of the following:

  • Ms. Peyser used to think that video games were a “drain on young men’s brains” that hobbled “their ability to form real bonds.” Your thoughts? Do video games get in the way of forming real relationships? Or can they strengthen relationships and promote social interactions, like they did for Ms. Peyser?


  • Have you ever had an experience where video games brought you closer to someone — or got in the way of a relationship?


  • By the end of her Op-Ed, Ms. Peyser argues video games are “more stimulating than bingeing Netflix?” Do you agree? Are they “a whole new type of media” that more of us should be exploring together?


  • Does gaming still have “a long way to go in connecting to women?” Ms. Peyser acknowledges “problematic gender dynamics” in many video games, such as in Grand Theft Auto, but she was able to get past them simply because playing the game was so exciting. What are your thoughts?




November 6, 2020

Week 9: Cursive Handwriting

Many of you are among the generation who have not been required to write in cursive.  The debate of whether or not schools  should continue to teach cursive writing in a digital age has been a topic in education for the past ten years.  It is has reemerged in recent legislation throughout the US.  One side argues there are cognitive gains for children learning cursive; another argues there are more important topics to teach – cultural sensitivity, racial equity, media awareness and social/emotional learning and cursive is a throwback to a time past its usefulness.  Before taking a position on the issue, read the following articles:

cursive in schools again   (this link has a couple of short video clips as well)

cursive coming back

cursive and child development

Consider the arguments each makes and the source/references in the articles.  Then, in a thoughtful response of at least 250 words, decide where you stand.  Use information from the articles to support your stance.  If you do not wish to take a stand, offer another perspective to the debate.  Either way, it needs to be clear that you have familiarized yourself with the points made in the above links.



October 30, 2020

Week 8: Online Courses

This week we take another look at online learning, except this time the issue considers those most hurt when learning is virtual.  Given the 2020 school year, we can all agree that online learning is not ideal.  The attached article goes a step further and documents who is most adversely affected by online learning.  (Note too that the article is two years old).  Think about your own specific challenges when all your classes were online.  Together, with information gleaned from the article and your own experience, cite three of the most important factors our school district should address in order for all students to succeed using an online format.

online learning





October 23, 2020

Week 7: You choose and shareequipmentprotection3

This week the topic is turned over students.  It’s your job to comb the news/internet to find an article covering/discussing a topic that matters to you and others your age.  It may be local, national or international.  It need not be up-to-the-minute current, but it should be something recent.    Your task is to research and share an issue that impacts you and your peers and support why you’ve chosen it.  It may be a pop culture topic, but be sure that you can argue its significance for a larger circle of people.  Your source needs to be credible.  Provide a link to your article, then in a thoughtful response of at least 250 words, defend why your chosen topic merits our attention.

Here is my choice:   BBC article on Voting in America




October 16, 2020

Week 6:  A picture is worth a 1,000  words

So this is an image of how I am feeling about my life lately.  How are you feeling?  As a last ToW for 1st quarter, select a picture that best shows your present state of mind/being, your life right now. If you are not comfortable with showing your present state, share an image of what you might look forward to.  Post it and then, in a thoughtful response of at least 250 words, explain why you chose the image, what you like about it, what you would possibly add to the image to be even more specific. . .



October 9, 2020

Week 5:  Holding students accountable

Rainier Harris, a senior at Regis High School, near his home in Queens.

Rainier Harris, senior at Regis HS in Queens, NY.

Casual Racism at My Elite High School

Racism, hate and bullying is nothing new to students in school.  Racial slurs, homophobic language and harassment occur on and off school campuses.  Responses are often punitive — in other words, schools suspend or even expel students as punishment.  Some schools take a different approach by establishing a dialogue between victims and offenders to begin to repair the harm done.  The hope is that opening up a dialogue helps everyone heal.

Follow the above link and read the article written by a high school student whose school took an innovative approach to racism.  Next, in a thoughtful response of at least 250 words, consider the following questions:

What responsibility do you think schools have to resolve issues of racism, hatred and bullying between students or other community members?

What should be the goal of any school response? Is the point to simply patch things over? Punish the offending students? Help the student who was hurt to heal? Seek justice for the wrong committed?

What is your reaction to the model of restorative justice discussed in the article?

Do you think the restorative justice model is appropriate for all kinds of issues related to bias, hate and bullying that might come up in a school? Why, or why not?  Should this model be a part of our high school’s discipline policy?





October 2, 2020

Week 4:  Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Over a week has passed since the death of Justice Ginsberg and as the country pays tribute to her many accomplishments, let us reflect on some of her work as well.  First, follow the link: RBG to watch a short clip on her life and interests.  Next, read the following article: Advice from RBG.

Using the information from both the video and the article, choose one of the following questions and write a thoughtful paragraph(s) of at least 250 words in response.

  • Linda Greenhouse said that Justice Ginsburg, “had a really radical project: to erase the functional difference between men and women in society. She wanted to make it clear that there should be no such thing as ‘women’s work’ and ‘men’s work.’” What do these words mean to you? Do you support Justice Ginsburg’s vision? Why or why not?

  • To what degree, if at all, do you think we have achieved her goal of erasing the functional differences between men and women? What, if anything, still needs to change?

  • What about Justice Ginsburg’s life, as chronicled in the video, surprised you? What experiences in her life have earned her the title of “the Supreme Court’s feminist icon”? How might we best honor her memory?



September 25, 2020

Week 3: Words matter

blindness and words

Follow the link above to view a short video.  Reflect on the clip’s impact and write a fully developed paragraph of at least 250 words regarding the power of words as demonstrated in the video. Respond specifically to how it is you think the edited version of the sign affected people more than the original did. Use your understanding of rhetoric to help write your response.  After your paragraph, place yourself in the shoes of the woman who edited the sign: what changes would you have made to the sign if you had come across the man? Don’t simply say you would have written the same thing the woman did; come up with your own words.




September 18, 2020

Week 2:  The crystal ball


What is this image saying? How does it relate to or comment on society or current events?  What is your opinion of its message?

Think about our discussions of Visual Rhetoric and the components of analysis that help us to understand and form opinions of images.  In a thoughtful response of at least 250 words, answer the above questions.  (Be sure that you are clear about what you believe is the message expressed in the image.)  Include at least three components of analysis we have already utilized with the advertisements we have shared in class.


September 11, 2020

Week 1:  Words To Live By . . .

One of the goals of AP Language and Composition is to understand/appreciate the power of words.  So to begin, consider the following:

Share a quote by someone famous that you believe we should all, in some way or another, incorporate into our own lives. Explain why this quote is important and how you have come to adopt it. Respond in 250 words by Friday and comment on two other persons’ responses by 9:00 PM Sunday.