I Wrote My Way Out


For this project, we were asked to compile 6-8 texts that we would hypothetically assign to a class that is centered around our blog topic. There are three categories that each of our readings is meant to fulfill;

  • print media
  • multimedia
  • culturally relevant media

For each category we were asked to compile an in depth analysis of the qualitative, quantitative, and task complexity of the content of at least one text from each category. For each text, I will include a description of the text and it’s significance to the discipline. For at least three texts, I will include an analysis of it’s qualitative, quantitative, and task complexity elements.

My Disciplinary Text Set:

Print Media

1) “Sparknotes’ No Fear Shakespeare Series: Macbeth”

Author: William Shakespeare
Description: A Scottish war general by the name of MacBeth is given a prophecy by a trio of witches that he will rise to power as the King of Scotland. Consumed by need for power and spurred by his manipulative wife, MacBeth murders King Duncan and usurps his throne. In his hungry quest for power, MacBeth, along with his wicked bride, descend to madness.
My evaluation: This particular edition of MacBeth includes a line by line translation of the Shakespearean Olde English text to a more modern one. This makes the text more accessible to a high school reader in understanding it’s context in relationship to Hamilton, as it contains many parallels to the play itself, especially since Hamilton references the play in the song “Take A Break”.
Citation: Shakespeare, W., & Hoshine, K. (2008). Macbeth. New York, NY: Sparknotes.

2) “Alexander Hamilton”

Author: Ron Chernow
Description: A full-length biography of the life of Alexander Hamilton, detailing his highly misinterpreted life and political career. This text details Hamilton’s struggle through childhood as her emigrated from Scotland to the Caribbean and lost his mother to disease; his rise to notability, fighting in the Revolution as the aide to George Washington; his political career on the rise to becoming the first treasury secretary of the United States and writing of the Federalist Papers; his political corruption and exposing his own affair with The Reynold’s Pamphlet; up until his death by losing a duel to third Vice President Aaron Burr. Lin-Manuel Miranda directly cites Chernow’s biography as being an inspiration for him writing Hamilton: An American Musical.
Text Complexity and Accessibility/Quantitative elements: (Text Readability according to Storytoolz.com) The text has an average reading level of grade 11.8, meaning it has been evaluated as having a reading level for grades 11 and above.
Qualitative elements: The complexity of the reading based on a qualitative rubric for common core standards.
Text Structure: Moderately Complex
Language Features: Very Complex; mostly in part of the direct references to Hamilton’s writing
Purpose: Slightly Complex
Knowledge Demands: Moderately Complex
Vocabulary Terms:
Pious: having or showing or expressing reverence for a deity
Subservience: being something that is useful in carrying out a plan
Matriculate: enroll as a student
Assuage: provide physical relief, as from pain
Swashbuckling: flamboyantly reckless and boastful behavior
Dilatoriness: slowness as a consequence of not getting around to it
My evaluation: I am not sure I agree with the assigned reading level of the text. The quantitative assessment implies that the reading is more for grades 11 and up. I don’t see why this text could not be assigned to 9th-10th grades, but I do think a bit of background knowledge is required to engage in the text.
Task and Reader Complexity: The purpose of the assigned text is to understand the historical context of the musical. Much of the events that are detailed in Hamilton are found in this book. It is important for young actors, designers, and directors to do their research on a play before entering the production process, and this is one piece of reading that contextualizes the play directly.
Citation: Alexander Hamilton: by Ron Chernow: summary & highlights. (2015). United States: Level Press.


3) “Hamilton’s America”

Director: Alex Horwitz
Description: A PBS documentary on the development and production process of the musical Hamilton, it includes interviews with the cast and director, as well as an depth look with the show’s writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Text Complexity and Accessibility:
Quantitative elements: (Text Readability according to Storytoolz.com) Since finding a transcript of the dialogue in the documentary, wal rather hard to find, I did a Readability assessment of the “About the Documentary” description found on the PBS website. The average grade level for the documentary itself was assessed as being for 14.3 grade level, meaning college and beyond.
Qualitative elements: The complexity of the reading based on a qualitative rubric for common core standards.
Text Structure: Slightly Complex
Language Features: Moderately Complex
Purpose: Moderately Complex
Knowledge Demands: Slightly Complex
Vocabulary Terms:
Founding Fathers: An important (male) figure in the origin and early history of something.
John Trumbull: An American artist during the period of the American Revolutionary War and was notable for his historical paintings.
Destitute: without the basic necessities of life.
Metronomic: mechanically regular (as in action or tempo)
Cadence: a sequence of notes or chords comprising the close of a musical phrase.
Precedent: an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.
My evaluation: I don’t agree with the quantitative evaluation of the documentary. I see no reason why a high school-aged audience would be able to grasp the core concepts of the documentary. I would, however, show this documentary to a class that may be more advanced in their practice. I would be more liable to show this my 11th and 12th grader than the 9th and 10th graders. The documentary does contain some mature language in it, as well.
Task and Reader Complexity: The purpose of assigning this documentary is for the student to understand the background behind the creation of Hamilton. The student will gather a broader understanding of the historical work and research writer Lin-Manuel Miranda put in the process to create the show. They will also understand the context of the play in its musical influences and lyrical styles.
Citation: Hamilton’s America|Hamilton’s America: Full Film. (2016, November 22). Retrieved March 17, 2017, from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/hamiltonfullfilm/5801/


4) “Why thousands of students are getting the chance to see ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway”

Presented by PBS NewsHour
Date Published: May 8th, 2016
Description: This spring, 20,000 public high school students from low-income neighborhoods in New York City will get the opportunity to see “Hamilton,” the Broadway smash hit nominated this week for a record 16 Tony Awards. Students can see the show as part of a new classroom curriculum designed around the show to encourage creativity and foster student interest in history. NewsHour’s Saskia de Melker reports.
My evaluation: Since my central blog topic is the way Hamilton is beneficial to public schools and teachers, I decided to use a video that documents the different ways the people behind the production of Hamilton are giving back to the NYC community.

Culturally Relevant Media

5) “A Hamilton Skeptic on Why the Show Isn’t As Revolutionary As It Seems.”

Author: Rebecca Onion
Date Published: April 5th, 2016
Description: The article is the author Rebecca Onion interviewing Lyra Monteiro, a historian with a PhD. from Brown University. Monteiro talks about the problematic aspects of Hamilton such as it failing to address Black slavery or that the characters portrayed by actors of color were slave owners in history.
Text Complexity and Accessibility:
Quantitative Elements: According to Storytoolz.com: Different reading indexes indicate that this reading ranges from an 8th grade reading level to an 11th grade level. The average reading grade level for the article is grade 9.5 (or 9th grade level).
Quantitative Elements: Based on the reading rubric for measuring qualitative aspects of the text, I evaluated it as the following:
Text structure: Slightly complex.
Language features: Moderately complex
Purpose: moderately Complex.
Knowledge Demands: Very complex.
My Evaluation: I wouldn’t say I agree with the grade level this text should be assigned to. I would assign this text to students who are more advanced in their practice. I would not assign this text to my freshman acting class, for example. I would want my students to spend time looking at other plays and learning how to criticize them on a personal scale before I’d make them consider criticizing a play on a social scale.
Vocabulary words:
Bechdel test: a literary tool derived from a comic strip by cartoonist Alison Bechdel
Progressive: favoring or implementing social reform with new ideas
Color-blind casting: choosing an actor to perform a role without regard to their race or -ethnicity.
Race-conscious casting: choosing an actor to perform a role specifically for their race or ethnicity.
Hiring-out: Refers to the “hiring out system” that South Carolina College used from 1801-1865, in which a hirer would temporarily lease a slave.
Boostraps narrative: stems from the phrase “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”, which is the implication that one must use their existing resources to get themselves into or out of a situation
Task and Reader Complexity: Students will need to have a background knowledge on not only the play itself but how the play was written, what pieces of text inspired its writing, and what motivated the writer of the play to makes certain choices of it’s story structure and casting. Students would be a assigned a text such as this — that criticizes something as beloved as Hamilton — to learn how to be critical of their own assigned readings. In the reading itself, the historian being interviewed said that she loved the play because it was a beautiful theatre production, but she recognizes that there are still problematic elements to it. It is okay to enjoy something or think it’s profound while still recognizing that it erases or alienates certain groups of people. The purpose of this reading is to look at something and recognize what about it makes you uncomfortable, makes you feel isolated, or understanding its mainstream (or lack of) success.
Citation: Onion, R. (2016, April 05). A Hamilton Skeptic on Why the Show Isn’t As Revolutionary As It Seems. Retrieved March 17, 2017, from http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2016/04/a_hamilton_critic_on_why_the_musical_isn_t_so_revolutionary.html

6) “Chance the Rapper Donates $1 Million to Chicago’s Public Schools”Published by the NY Times”

Author: Tamara Best
Date: March 7th, 2017
Description: Recent Grammy-award winner Chance The Rapper donated $1 Million to Chicago Public Schools. Chance also collaborated with Lin-Manuel Miranda on the Hamilton Mixtape album this past year with a cover of “Dear Theodosia”. Chance is Chicago-born, and initially planned to donate $100,000, and his recent donation sparked a debate on the way the education system is run in the city. Chance expressed hope that the donation would help fund the arts.
My Evaluation: I chose the reading not only because it is culturally relevant but also because of Chance’s collaboration with Lin-Manuel Miranda on the Hamilton Mixtape. It is also relevant because Chance is a notable figure in hip hop right now and he made a contribution to public schools that we don’t often see from artists.
Citation: Best, T. (2017, March 07). Chance the Rapper Donates $1 Million to Chicago’s Public Schools. Retrieved March 17, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/07/arts/chance-rapper-chicago-schools-donation.html?_r=0


3 thoughts on “I Wrote My Way Out

  1. I like the way that you organized your analysis, it’s clear what you’re going to be discussing in the paragraph. For the quantitative elements, I think it would benefit if you explained why you found the texts to be moderately complex and what not. A lot of them vary in complexity so I was curious to know why you chose one rating over another. I think your culturally relevant choices are interesting! The article that is skeptical of Hamilton could have an interesting class discussion based around it, students would love an opportunity to explain why they don’t like the class material haha


  2. You do a great job organizing this piece and your passion for Hamilton continues to shine through. You made some good choices that will further your students knowledge on Hamilton and are also presenting alternative opinions and pointing out that as great as it is, it’s not perfect.


  3. I really like how the complete set of texts works together – your topic is already culturally relevant and a multi-media work, so that’s a good starting point, but it points directly to more traditional texts like the biography and even ties to MacBeth, though that is still accessible to younger kids by way of the No Fear edition.

    Recently I reread Romeo and Juliet for a writing project and my wife picked me up a used “No Fear” copy; I said “pfshhh I don’t need the Cliff’s notes version” but in fact the “translated” version came in handy from time to time, particularly since I was reading under a bit of a time crunch.

    In any case, I like how the texts all work together, and the article about Chance the rapper is a really need bit of intertextualism – the idea of a famous modern rapper contributing to a mixtape about history and making a huge investment in education is a very exciting juxtaposition and one that I think would inspire significant discussion in the classroom.


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