17 October 2013

LOTF Writer's Workshop

18 October 2013

The English 10A class is in the thick of writing the literary analysis papers over The Lord of the Flies. Students have selected a major theme from the text that they feel passionately about, and will prove through their writing how author William Golding displayed that theme throughout the text.

The Writer’s Workshop process is a relatively new addition to the WHS English Department. The whole point of the Workshop is to help students strengthen their writing skills by critically and purposefully dissecting their own writing, as well as others. Each Workshop we complete focuses on a specific skill. For example, the English 10A just completed the first Workshop, which was focused on critiquing the strength of the writer’s thesis statement, main ideas, and supporting details.

Prior to the Workshop, students reviewed and practiced the traits of strong thesis statements, main ideas, and supporting details. Then, students break off into small groups to critique each other’s papers.

The process is a great way to help students identify their writing weaknesses, and give them immediate feedback to help them improve.

After each Workshop, students get the opportunity to make corrections to their drafts, and the process starts all over focusing on a new concept. By the end, if students put forth effort in the process and ask questions, they are very likely to have a near-perfect paper!

The Workshop process has many versions. Sometimes, students work in small groups and discuss their papers with each other. Other times, the whole class sits in a big circle and passes the papers around for timed edits.

This is the second time this English 10A class has gone through the Writer’s Workshop process, and hopefully, they are feeling more confident as they get more comfortable with the process.

I greatly look forward to the polished, poised writing these students have to offer!

Period 5 Students Workshopping
Photo Courtesy: Blake Tobey
Period 5 Students
Photo Courtesy: Blake Tobey 
The full class spread out in small groups
Photo Courtesy: Blake Tobey

Period 4 workshop groups working on their first drafts
Photo Courtesy: Blake Tobey

Period 7 workshop group
Photo Courtesy: Blake Tobey

Period 7 workshop group discussing thesis
Photo Courtesy: Blake Tobey

11 October 2013

Intro JOU Update

The Introduction to Journalism classes have really grown this quarter. Back in August, several students were more than a little surprised by the work load before them, but they have met the challenge head on. Now, they are not only very aware and actively observant about the world around them, they are also stronger writers than when they came in.

One of the hardest aspects of Intro is the weekly Current Events Quiz (CEQ). Every Friday, students are asked ten questions about the most newsworthy events locally, across the state, nationally and internationally. At first, this quiz was probably the most dreaded part of their Friday. However, now that they know the difference between a newsworthy story--something that actually impacts citizens' lives--and a story newspapers report just to get readers (i.e. "shock" news and "infotainment"), these students are now savvy consumers of news. In fact, the 30+ students in Intro are more diligent and critical news readers than many adults I know!

The students have also grown as writers. With weekly AP style notes and quizzes, students are slowly-yet-surely gaining ground on some of the most common writing mistakes as well as the key differences between AP Style and MLA Style.

Two of the Intro students, junior Arick Ames and freshman Ashley Turner, have been featured in the Hi-Spot for their incredible review stories. This is a great achievement for a novice reporter!

I look forward to the second semester as we focus entirely on writing, photography and page design. The Intro students will submit their stories and photography to both Viking Annual and Hi-Spot, and if their material is quality, they may get published!

Journalism is a very difficult field of study. However, I have great hope for these up-and-coming journalists; someday, we may see their articles in the New York Times like Hi-Spot Alum Zachary Tegler ('10).

Photo Courtesy: Blake Tobey
Students reading current events, online and in print.

Photo Courtesy: Blake Tobey
Students Arick & Samantha editing their stories.

10 October 2013

Lord of the Flies Review

This marks the fourth year I have taught Lord of the Flies to sophomores, and it has been the best experience I've had by far. They have noticed insights in the text, came up with possible motivations for characters, brought in powerful examples, and have asked the most thought-provoking questions. What a joy it has been to have such deep, poignant conversations with the future of our community!

The whole purpose of Golding's novel is to explore the duality of human nature -- the dark and light in us all. Students engaged in group discussions about topics ranging from leadership versus power, fear, hope, social conditioning, mob mentality, bullying, human instinct verses civility, order, control, revenge, innocence, among many, many others.

Photo Courtesy: Le Cineclub | The Film Society

I think what impresses me the most about this group is that they were able to see past the writing style. Past years, students were so caught up in their dislike for the older, more descriptive form of writing and use of figurative language that they were unable to get the point of the text. It shows a great depth of maturity, as well as the students' desire to tackle complex, philosophical discussions.

We are about to start the literary analysis paper for this unit, and students are very passionate about their potential topics. I am very excited to see what this group comes up with. Here are a few shots of the students at work on their projects.

Photos Courtesy: Blake Tobey
Period 7 working hard

Period 5 at work
Sophomores Mark & Nick taking two approaches:
digital and pen & paper

AJ taking notes online
Period 7 works at their own pace

Period 5 tackling their assignments they way the want