It was understandably difficult for the class to really settle in and focus today; it’s their last day of English (ever, for some!) and they were all leaving in fifty minutes to go bowling for the day. How can English compete with that?! We did get things settled, though, and were able to have a fairly productive class.
I gave students a handout with two poems on it. We have already studied / analyzed these poems but they weren’t given a copy at the time. (We looked at them using the projector and they wrote out their responses / phrases on their sheet.) Both of the poems given (though one was not the one I intended to give them) can be used for either of the two parts for this course. Finding literature that will be able to adapt to either possible theme will be of value to them.
I also gave them a handout that had essay questions from the last three years of Dept exams. The benefit of this, I think, is that they should get a Reheheally good idea of the kinds of questions they’ll be asked and prepare them better for what to expect and how to plan to respond.
For example, we read through six different possible questions they may be asked for the One Paragraph Personal Response question. For each question, we discussed possible responses as a class. I made it emphatically clear that they ‘must’ refer to a personal issue being sure to use the words “I” and “my” etc.
For the first of the two Five Paragraph Formal Literary Essays, they can only refer to small literature selections. This was made absolutely clear to them!! We read through the six essay questions and roughly pieced together which stories / essays / poems we could use in answering.
The same was done with the last Five Paragraph Formal Literary Essay. They have to decide (maybe even before going into the final) which major story they are most comfortable with – Night, Hamlet, or Animal Farm. Their entire essay must only refer to ONE of these.
We wrapped things up after a few sporatic questions. We reviewed quickly the Tips for Exam Writing that I had shared with them back in January. Bring a drink (keeps you motivated and your stamina to keep writing is extended), chew gun (maintains a greater focus on your task / fewer distractions), and bring a snack of some sort that won’t make a lot of noise to open.
I’ve done my best to make sure you all are as prepared for this exam as possible. Beyond that, though, I’ve done all I could to make this class interesting, create an engaging environment where you felt like you “wanted” to participate, and tried to give you assignments and projects that had some real value. It’s been a great six months getting to know you and work with you. I wish you all the best of luck out there in the “real world”. Don’t feel shy about looking me up, please. I’d love to hear how you’re doing out there or lend an ear.
Here’s a treat for you that goes along the lines of writing exams. lol You’ll enjoy it!
Today would have been a great review class for those who were here. (Ahem… hint hint to the few who’ve quit, apparently!) Students were given a chart yesterday with columns for literature titles and each of the sub-units in the two parts of this course. The purpose of today’s class and review was to look at each individual story and decide if it can relate to any of the other sub-units. When studying, it will help them to narrow down their review of specific literature titles to the ones that are the most versatile and can be used to answer practically any question the exam will pose to them.
We listed the titles in the order we studied them in the course, from February on, and did a quick recap of the plot of the story and how it could fit each theme. It was a good review of the course and helped to show how the ideas are mostly interlinked giving a nice holistic view of the class. They did a good job of participating in this review, even Curtis. (Insert gritty smile here. lol)
Tomorrow, I’ll give them a choice – they can either do a bit of review for how to brainstorm and plan to respond to one of the essay questions (my choice for them) or let them watch a bit of the Animal Farm movie (likely their choice) but we’ll see how persuasive I can maybe be!
They also were given a handout that has the answer key to the first three sections of the practice departmental exam they started and were given back yesterday. They can check it to see how they did. Also, I had a handout about using transitional phrases in their writing that we didn’t have time to study in class. I gave them the handout anyway for those who may have an interest in looking through it to see / realize how they likely already use transitions but can work to improve that for the final.
The end is near! One more day! Bring your tissues; I’m sure you’ll be saddddd…… right?
The class worked extremely well individually going through their binders to organize their literature, check to see if they are missing copies of anything, and begin creating reviews in anticipation of their final exam on Friday.
As mentioned previously, approximately half their exam will be based on content knowledge (titles, characters, definitions of figurative language, etc) and the other half will be based on their ability to practice the skills taught in the course (essay writing, paragraph writing, writing to create tone, analyzing poetry, etc).
And this was our final class!! Congrats, Gr 9 and 10s. Good luck on your final!
Students enjoyed a beautiful day outside today with the golf field trip. No English, today, though. I’m sure they were reaheheheally disappointed! I’ll try to bring their spirits up tomorrow in our Final Class!
(There will be no class Thursday because of their bowling field trip. Again, I’ll try to encourage them not to be too depressed. lol)
We reviewed to start the last sub-unit we studied regarding “Ambition, Power, and the Common Good”. We watched the movie Blood Diamond in relation to that and also read and discussed the novel Animal Farm. It is a fairly clear example of the problems and difficulties that arise from the struggle for Power and trying to determine what the Common Good actually is.
The last sub-unit to quickly discuss and consider for the course is one that looks at Social Criticism – those in society who conform and “go with the flow” versus those who “think outside the box” and look at common practices with a fresh perspective and offer different ideas.We discussed the reality that, since we are shaped by our surroundings so much, it is difficult to see clearly what is around us. We’re so used to different things that we can’t understand why others would want to change them. The reality, though, is that we should still attempt to look at things fresh and question why we do or believe things. Without questioning our actions, we’re not being responsible. I gave students two examples from my personal experience:
Lately, especially, I’ve been questioning what is considered a common practice, in small communities at least, where parents “pull beer” for their kids. I have no comment on young people drinking but dislike the reality that buying the beer for people underage sets a certain example for young people – that you should obey only certain laws. How surprising is it, then, when these kids so often risk themselves by drinking and driving. Closer to home, a woman I have known for years, since her children were just small, bought alcohol for her son on a Friday night and put it directly into the back of his truck. There was a major accident that night involving his truck that ended in the fatality of one boy and serious brain injury of another. “Parents Pull… and kids die” is a new S.A.D.D. or M.A.D.D. slogan I’d like to suggest. I question what is a common practice – I don’t conform to that standard.
Another example I could share with the students was the work a former Gr 8 Social class did last year. A tragic “accident” happened in Calgary last year where a mother left her two children in her vehicle, left running, while she stopped to pick up party supplies for the next day. While she was in the store, her three-year old daughter woke and was upset in the car seat in the back, the young boy undid her buckle and the girl proceeded to roll down the window to climb out. While she was in the process of this, though, her feet stepped on the window controls causing the window to come up and strangled her. Someone else drove up the parking lot, found this child choking in the window, struggled to get her out and tried to revive her. Unable to do so, he ran into the building to have someone call 9-11. Meanwhile, the mother returned to her vehicle and drove away, unaware that her daughter was unconscious in the backseat. The ambulance arrived only to find that the van was gone and the chilling reality was that the mother only found that her daughter had died when she finally stopped later.I ask – “Should we have a law that makes it illegal to leave a child in a running vehicle unattended?” The Gr 8’s polled people in their community and had a mostly positive reaction, except for a few parents who thought it would cause more problems, having to drag kids in and out of vehicles. We asked the question, though. We looked at what is a common practice in our country and asked whether something should be changed. Being aware of our social laws and behaviors is important, but also being aware of why they exist is equally important.
We briefly talked about Cultural Relativity – the belief that individuals cannot criticize a group or culture from outside that same culture (you can only be critical of actions/ beliefs if you have been raised in that culture and understand the meaning behind those actions). An example of this is the practice of Female Circumcision, which is practiced widely in many Eastern countries. Fathers expect this of their daughters at a certain age and consider it a necessity while being quite affectionate of their daughters. It is to protect their marriages from adultery, is one of their beliefs. Someone from outside that culture could easily be very critical, but the idea behind Social Relativity is that unless you understand it from the inside, you have no right to question it sincerely. It is a concept of Sociology, but does not mean you have to agree with it.
We read a story called “Kaffir Boy” about a man from South Africa. He recounts the day when it became clear to him what going to school would actually mean for his life and the desperation his mother went through in being sure he had the opportunity. We identified those who conformed to popular beliefs, and those who resisted. It was a somewhat rushed discussion of this unit, but that always seems to be the case at the end of a class in June.
The final is on Monday. We’ll begin reviews tomorrow and Thursday will be reserved for studying and individual help. I’m sure you’ll all do quite well. Just remind yourselves of the literature that will be most adaptable for the exam questions.
With only two classes left, the students begged to do a play or skit as a final class project. They divided up, girls against boys, and started brainstorming the story they were going to depict on Wednesday when they will perform / compete.
I wrote an evaluation plan on the board so they could anticipate how they will be evaluated:
I reminded the students that their poem / paragraph assignment was due last Thursday but will still be accepted until the last day of school, this Thursday.
To direct their focus as we listen to the end of Animal Farm, I wrote several themes or topics related to the novel in our unit of study. The topics were as follows:
Consider how easily people in societies can be persuaded / manipulated / motivated.
Leaders and followers – there are always natural leaders and natural followers
Common good – what does it mean / who decides what it is / someone always loses out
Social responsibility – our conscience / intuition inform us in our decisions
Self doubt – people still do things despite uneasy feelings (ie: follow)
People do what they believe is right
Power – does power always lead to corruption?
Students finished listening / reading the novel Animal Farm. We discussed it a bit at the end but will continue tomorrow.
I also handed back the practice Dept exams the students started last week. Whether they use them as practice or to study the format for the exam or not is up to them. There is also a answer key they can use to check their responses for the first few sections of it.
In regards to the format for their final next Monday, I reminded them that they will have to write two formal literary essays – one that only refers to any three of the shorter literature (stories, essays, poems) and one that refers to only one of the major pieces of literature we have studied (Hamlet, Night or Animal Farm). I had written on the board the essay question options from last June’s B30 dept exam. The questions will obviously be different ones but looking at these allows them to gather a better idea of the types of questions they may be asked.
Formal essay options referencing three shorter pieces:
With reference to three selections, show how characters strive to be accepted or admired.
With reference to three selections, show how characters’ reactions to challenges illustrate their true identity.
Formal essay options referencing only one major piece:
Show how unrealistic expectations established by the main character(s) lead to disappointment.
Show how characters attempt but fail to remedy the injustices of society around them.
Here is a link to another year’s ELA B30 departmental exam with answer key attached. Try it out.
There’s a pretty great movie made based on the novel Animal Farm. They did a great job with the movements of the animals. What do you think?
We only have two classes together this week. (Students are going to be away Tuesday on a Golfing field trip and Thursday they’ll be going bowling.)
Students were given a copy of the literature lists for both units in the B10 class. They should have their copies still but this copy has a few titles / assignments crossed out because we were unable to get to them this year. Any of the literature studied since the beginning of the class, in the beginning of February, may be refered to in the questions of the Final.
There was also a list of “skills” that have been taught during this course. Some of the final will be content related questions while others will be skill related. These would be the types of assignments or writing skills we have studied, such as:
Grammar: comma use, common essay errors, commonly misspelled words
Formal literary paragraph writing
Thesis creation and transition sentence
Essay work (brainstorm, outline, evidence for support)
Integrating references / evidence from literature into own writing
Tone in writing by specific word choice
Reading / analyzing / comprehending literature
Elements of narrative essay
Themes / symbols / conflicts
Students were also given a short science fiction story. They will be given specific questions related to that story, but instead of having to read the story during the exam they can read it in advance. They were told to be sure to bring their copy of the story to the exam, but copies will be available. (If they have notes written on the page unrelated to that story in particular, like study notes or a cheat sheet, they’ll be given a new copy.)
Students then used the duration of the class to review their literature, go through their binders to check for any missing pieces. They were also reminded that the narrative essay due last Thursday can still be handed in up to this Thursday. Last chance!!
The reminder was written on the board (with today’s plan) that the Poem or Paragraph assignment was due today. (Students had the option of choosing to write a poem or formal body paragraph for the assignment.)
I wasn’t here yesterday so students had an opportunity to ask any clarifying questions, talk about anything they are uncertain about regarding the story. I focused their attention to several key themes they should watch for evident in the novel, such as Ambition, Power, the idea of the Common Good, and the subject of Responsibility, whether individual or group. We discussed the Final Essay Question from the Departmental exam example that asked the student to prove with reference to a large piece of literature that “People only do what they believe is right”. Using the novel Animal Farm as the reference, I asked them to briefly consider whether they would be able to respond, based on the storyline so far.
Then they read – students settled quickly and wasted no time in getting right back into the novel. I mentioned that the novel is so engaging and such an interesting story that it is easy to stay interested with it, whether you have a book or not, but I have to say in particular that these students are doing a fantastic job of staying on that task themselves. When you listen to something for almost an entire class, it might seem easy to find ways to lose interest or focus, but these students are proving the opposite. I’m pleased with that. Of course, too, it doesn’t hurt that the person narrating the audio actually sings the songs and bleets out the sheep’s parts! lol
Graduation is tomorrow. I hope all the Grade twelves have a wonderful day getting ready. Hope it’s what you were waiting for! See you tomorrow!
This painting is titled “Blame Snowball”. Interesting interpretation, don’t you think?!
We talked about how their listening / reading of the play went yesterday with Mr. Burnet leading the class. Before continuing with the reading we had a pretty detailed discussion about the environment the play would have been performed in:
We talked about the reality that they would have been very simply pleased in the area of entertainment. I asked students what major things they look for in entertainment from movies and such – blood, action, great effects and such were some of their answers, and anything less would seem boring to them. I asked them to try to remove themselves from what they currently expect in entertainment and imagine a time when there was no t.v. and a radio show was THE entertainment everyone was thrilled by. This play is an example of that type of entertainment.
We also talked about the reality of the current world tension that existed at the time of the radio performance. World War One had been a horrific experience and what people dreaded ever happening again, another World War, was just beginning. People as a whole were on edge. It didn’t take much to get their excitement up.
Orson Wells had to account for his intentions for performing this radio play. He was questioned and nearly encountered big trouble. He later admitted some political intentions but for the most part delivered it as entertainment only.
The class (individual students) did a great job in our discussion of coming to certain realizations, like that if they had taken off from their homes they wouldn’t have been able to continue listening to hear the reminder that it was all just a play. Scott made a great point that even if they knew it was a play but realized there was mass hysteria on the streets of their city, they may have thought something “else” was going on and been as frantic.
The point was also made, in listening to the rest of the play today, that the play’s manuscript, which students all had a copy of, was written with specific techniques to create that extra realism. I asked the class to watch for those techniques as we listened and we would discuss them at the end of the play.
Then we listened. Once done, we talked about two major points that may be directly refered to for the final –
What elements of the story can be found that give a negative impression of the value of science on society?
What techniques does the writer use that are “included in the text” of the play to create realism?
We only have two classes left, unfortunately, because two classes will be used next week with two field trips planned by other teachers in the school. We won’t have time to be able to get through what would have been a very minor look at the story of Macbeth. We’ll discuss the storyline and the fantasy elements of it, and possibly look at the first few minutes of the Polanski version of the movie (it’s quite eerie). Regardless, we’ll have a review next week in one of those classes of the specific “skills” you may be asked to perform on the test and a comprehensive reminder of the literature “content” we have taken. Start skimming your material. Try not to cram at the end!
Here is a link to many definitions of “Science Fiction” as viewed by authors.