General Questions

How do I contact you?

You can email me at dstorey@pway.org or call at 732-981-0700 ext. 7017.

I need extra help; what days/times do you offer extra help?

I'm usually available anytime by appointment before school from 6:30-7:10.  

Do you offer extra-credit? 

The answer is usually "no." So please, don't ask.  If there is something that is worthwhile and subject related I will make an announcement to the class.

What is your policy on late work? 

I do not accept late homework.  However, I will accept major essays up to three days late at a loss of 10 points for every day late.  For instance, if you hand in an essay on Thursday, but it was due that Monday, the best you can hope for is a 70%.  Do yourself a favor and hand the essay in on time.

What is your policy on absences? What should I do if I'm absent?

Since you have constant access to the homework calendar and my email, you should always check the calendar and always follow up with an email to me to request any work during an absence.  Failing to do either will leave you under-prepared when you return.  Note- if you are absent the day an essay or project is due, you are still required to turn the essay or project in on the day it is due. Any essay or project received after 1:45 on its due date will be considered late. If you are absent the day an assessment is administered (whether it's a pop quiz or scheduled quiz/test) you are responsible for completing this assessment upon your returnPlease note, if a reading is assigned during your absence, there will most likely be a pop quiz the following day, and you are responsible for taking this quiz.   Since you will have ample notice about tests, you will be required to take the test the day you return. Please note that mid-term and final exams are special cases and will be handled specifically by the PHS administration.  Finally, if you are absent for an individual presentation, then you will be required to present the day you return.  If you are absent the day of a group presentation, then you will be given an alternative assessment to complete. 

Absences happen.  But by taking the necessary and responsible measures listed above, you can assure that your absence will have a minimal impact on your standing in class.

*Note- a doctor's note for an illness related absence (not a parent's) will be required for me to consider any exception in reference to quizzes, tests, or presentations.  In the case of some emergency related absence, I will make a decision on a case-by-case basis.

Can you write me a letter of recommendation?

Please click on the following link regarding letters of recommendation.

AP Language and Composition Questions

What's the difference between AP Language and Composition and AP Literature and Composition?

The CollegeBoard states the following: "The principal academic activity in the AP English Language course is rhetorical criticism. In the AP English Literature course, it is literary criticism. For that reason, the primary texts for AP English Language are writings found in real-world communicative contexts, while the primary texts for AP English Literature come from the literary canon. Of course, these categories overlap. Literary works often have functional effects, and functional discourse often makes use of imaginative and artistic language. But in general, the works studied in an AP English Language course are nonfiction or the literature of fact. It should be a comfortable course for bright students who may not have a passion for literature but who can appreciate the power of language in a broad range of non-literary contexts" (CollegeBoard AP FAQ's). Finally, traditionally here at P.H.S. the AP Language and Composition class was offered junior year, while the AP Literature and Composition class was offered senior year, however, beginning in the 2014-2015 school year both the Lang and Lit class is open to juniors and seniors alike. 

What's the difference between AP English Lang & Comp and Honors English III?  

The honors class is meant to be rigorous, but the level of rigor from honors to AP is distinct.  To be clear, AP Lang students study college level material at a college level pace.  At various points and at various levels this is also true for the honors class; however, the consistent college level material and pace that you encounter in AP separate it from honors.  Also, of course, the AP class will teach very specific strategies for performing well on the AP Language and Composition exam.  Finally, the AP Language and Composition class considers rhetoric and language at a deeper level than honors.  Because of these noticeable differences P.H.S. weights the classes differently.  Honors receives 5 points, while AP classes receive 10 points.

What is rhetorical criticism?

The CollegeBoard states the following: "Rhetorical criticism is the analytical method underlying a substantial part of the AP English Language course. Using the methods of rhetorical criticism, a student examines a discourse in context, paying attention to its situation, purpose, and audience, and observing how the writer or speaker controls the context with language. Rhetorical criticism is a highly empowering tool for high school students because they can apply it to the world of language and communication that surrounds them. Historically, rhetoric has been the study of persuasion. What makes a discourse persuasive? One of the most challenging breakthroughs an AP English Language student needs to experience is discovering how writers not only say things, but also do things. The study of rhetorical criticism helps us understand what is being done to us when we listen and read" (CollegeBoard AP FAQ's).

Can a student get college credit or advanced placement for a grade of 3 on the AP English Language Exam?

Yes. However, students should check the credit/placement policy at the schools they are considering attending because policies vary from one institution to another; sometimes they vary within an institution from department to department. Bear in mind too that some colleges/universities do not even give credit for a perfect score of 5.

Do I have to be enrolled in an AP Composition class to take the AP exam?

No.  Anyone can sit for the AP exam, regardless of which English class they are enrolled in.

If I'm enrolled in an AP Composition class do I have to take the AP exam?

No.  You do not have to sit for the exam even if you are enrolled in the class.  In fact, if you have struggled and have not seen a noticeable improvement in your performance from September to April (around the time of exam sign up), then you should have a conversation with me to discuss this further.

Do I have to pay for the AP exam? If so, how much is it?

There is a fee to take the AP exam (around $90); however, there are instances where you can get the fee waived due to certain financial circumstances.  Speak to your counselor if you think you may qualify for a fee waiver.

Film Questions

Why should we study movies?

Why study film? Since their invention a little more than one hundred years ago, movies have become one of the world’s largest industries and most powerful art form of our time; they are a major presence in our lives--perhaps the most influential product of the 21st century. Movies have always possessed powers to amaze, frighten and enlighten us.  They challenge our senses, emotions, and intellects, pushing us to say, often passionately, that we love (or hate) them.  The thrust of any introductory film studies class is to join that enthusiasm with a critical understanding, to learn why we feel so strongly about film and to better understand the true power they possess.

How do we study movies?

We can study film from three primary vantage points: cinematic, thematic and ideological.  

When we learn how to identify certain cinematic elements (photography, mise en scene, editing, sound, etc.) and then consider their function (like why a filmmaker uses a high angle shot in a dimly lit scene), we can appreciate the movie and understand it more deeply. Understanding how the film was shot and edited, allows us to understand why it was shot and edited in such a way. In short, understanding the cinematic processes behind a film's production and post-production can give us a window into the intended effect of the filmmaker, thus giving us a much better understanding of the film with all of its subtleties and nuances.

For our purposes, we use the term "thematic" rather loosely to include theatrical and other literary elements as well.  For theatrical elements, our primary focus will be on acting, but we will also pay attention to props, set design and costume design.  Literary elements are not only germane to the study of written text, but also the "visual text." In this way watching a film is similar to reading a book, so we can use similar approaches.  For instance, taking into account a film's irony or symbolism allows us to use literary elements to gain a better appreciation for a film. Additionally, every narrative film will speak to some sort of theme.  Many films expound upon more than one theme too.  For instance, we can look at Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life from several different thematic vantage points. The film speaks to more simple themes like love and friendship, frustration and sacrifice, and more nuanced and/or complex themes like altruism, the repressions of small town American capitalism or the spiritual emptiness of the Protestant work ethic.  As you can see, recognizing and analyzing themes in films allows for a deeper appreciation and more meaningful movie viewing experience.

Finally, looking at movies (like any piece of art) from an ideological perspective also helps one understand and appreciate them at a much deeper level. For thousands of years critics have debated about art's function: does art teach or does it provide pleasure? This question is germane to the study of movies as well.  For instance, do we watch movies to merely tune out and munch on popcorn, to escape? Or rather, do we go because we want to learn about something?  Can a film do both?  In Understanding Movies, author Louis Giannetti offers a nice explanation about the function of ideology in film.  He states, "[Ideology] is generally associated with politics and party platforms, but it can also mean a given set of values that are implicit in any human enterprise--including filmmaking.  Virtually every movie presents us with role models, ideal ways of behaving, negative traits, and an implied morality based on the filmmaker's sense of right and wrong, In short, every film has a slant, a given ideological perspective that privileges certain characters, institutions, behaviors, and motives as attractive, and downgrades an opposing set as repellent" (Giannetti 428).

For instance, knowing that virtually every film has some sort of implicit message--whether intentional or unintentional--makes watching films that much more interesting; it broadens and enriches our perspective.  When taken all together then, we can see how these perspectives make movie watching so empowering and enlightening.

What are your top 25 favorite movies?

1) The Big Lebowski
The Shawshank Redemption
3) It's a Wonderful Life
4) The 400 Blows
5) Grand Illusion
6) Lord of the RingsThe Fellowship of the Ring
7) No Country for Old Men
8) The Seventh Seal
9) Back to the Future
10) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
11) Children of Men 
12) Werkmeister's Harmonies
13) The Graduate
Dead Man
15) Pulp Fiction
Pan's Labyrinth
17) Toy Story 3
18) North by Northwest
19) GoodFellas
20) The Fall
21) The Godfather II
22) The Dark Knight 
23) The Fighter 
24) 12 Years a Slave
25) Winter's Bone