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Westside seniors are exploring Hamlet, Shakespeare’s psychological thriller highlighting the young Prince Hamlet’s search for justice and revenge. Students write literary analysis papers and perform original soliloquies.
Sophomore English students are reading The Tragedy of Julius Caesar: Shakespeare’s historical rendition of the assassination Caesar. Students analyze famous monologues and soliloquies in the play, paying particular attention to rhetorical devices to prepare for in-class debates.
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Summary: It is the 1930’s in Maycomb, Alabama. Racism runs rampant, and so does Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. The protagonist, six year old “Scout” Finch has many adventures alongside her eight year old brother Jem, her lawyer father Atticus Finch, and many other interesting characters of the town. Little does she know that the town will encounter many difficult issues over the next two years of her life. A humble and honest man of color is accused of assaulting a white woman, and the case is headed to a supposedly “fair” trial. The town’s ugly underbelly is exposed, and Scout learns hard lessons about character and human nature. Will justice prevail? Will hate and prejudice see reason and forgiveness? Will the integrity of Atticus Finch be enough to save Scout and Jem?
Why we’re reading: Our world is rife with injustice, and in desperate need of people of unshakeable integrity. There are invaluable lessons to be learned from this book that can change hearts, minds, and – most importantly actions – if we will seek out the wisdom to be found. We read this book to better understand ourselves and the world around us.
Romeo & Juliet – William Shakespeare
Summary: Two upper class families of Verona are engaged in a feud that has killed many years, and many men. Yet, out of bitter battle comes love at first sight. Romeo sees Juliet across a crowded room and is transfixed. Juliet sees Romeo and is enraptured. But, will Romeo & Juliet’s young love be enough to overcome the stubborn pride and desperate hate that swirls around them? What does true love look like? Where do dreams end and practicality begin?
Why we’re reading: Hate is easily found in our city, our state, and our nation. There is only one way to deal with hate: love. But, love is vastly misunderstood and abused in our culture today. The heart is neglected while emotions and temporary feelings are infused with Monster energy drinks. We read this play to better understand what true love looks like, how to listen to our God-given hearts, and to gain a sense of compassion for the world around us.
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Summary: Guy Montag is a fireman. But, in the future firemen do not put out fires, they start them. Guy has been told all his life that books and ideas are bad and that they should be burned, so for many years he does as he is told. Until one day a “peculiar” young woman, and then an “insane” old woman, challenge his thinking. Are books and ideas as bad as he has been told? Maybe life will be better with more distractions and less time for thinking? Will he find the answers he seeks, or will his curiosity lead to his death?
Why we’re reading: In an increasingly polarizing cultural fabric, it is more important than ever before to learn to listen to ideas and opposing viewpoints. For many, listening is a last resort when it should be a default first option. We read this book to better understand our response to opposing ideas, and to learn to appreciate ideas – even if we do not agree with them. We also read this book to understand that faster does not necessarily mean better, and easier is not always a good thing.
The AP Language and Composition class is delving into F. Scott Fitzgerald’s well-known masterpiece, The Great Gatsby. Set in what Fitzgerald called the Jazz Age, we follow the lives of five upper class individuals in their pursuit for meaning, purpose, and love in a city where people valued wealth, vapid hedonism, and intrigue.
Fitzgerald is a true wordsmith as he tells the story of the elusive Jay Gatsby and his secret past. The novel touches on themes like the pursuit of the American Dream, society and class, love, memory and the past, and dissatisfaction all through Fitzgerald’s vibrant and brilliant use of language.
Both the AP Language and Composition and English 11 class have worked hard this semester delivering Lincoln-Douglas debates in their argumentation unit. Lincoln-Douglas is a values debate where students debate the driving principles behind their positions – values such as “Justice” or “Equality” or “Quality of Life”. Students are graded on the quality of their arguments as well as their delivery. Their peers vote for the better debater and then give them feedback on how / what they might improve.
In a creative choice project, a handful of AP Lit students used art as their medium after reading Jane Eyre. As a culminating project, students chose to create a work of art, write character journals, write and perform original songs or poems, or ‘teach’ about a modern theme from the novel through a Ted Talk and presentation.
Take a look as some of the impressive artwork from our seniors below!
This semester’s creative writing class has been working tirelessly all term, writing beautiful poetry, captivating stories, and hilarious personal journals. Their hard work culminated in a beautiful literary magazine publication which they called “Inkwell.” In it, one can find poems and stories written by Creative Writing students and also contributions from Westside’s visual art students. Ms. Tagayuna hopes that more students contribute and submit their writing and art to future volumes! So keep writing during the summer! You may be published next year!
The Creative Writing Class has been exploring the intersection between visual art and poetry. As a capstone project for their poetry unit, students broke up into groups and created poems and art pieces that would exemplify those intersections. Their challenge was to integrate all group members’ poetic and artistic voice and use a BOOK as their medium.
Students in AP Language and Speech classes have been exercising their argumentative skills through Lincoln-Douglas debates. They’ve been spending weeks researching and writing arguments on topics that are fundamentally VALUE driven. Such topics include juvenile delinquents and the justice system, socialism vs capitalism, compulsory immunizations, and more! They are required to debate within the confines of a given resolution and be able to articulate the foundational values that drive their stances. They are quite an impressive lot!
Mr. Trine’s English classes needed creativity and comprehension for a recent assignment in class: create an Anthem board/card game.
Review the grading rubric and see some excellent examples below!
|Knowledge Gained||Participants could not correctly state facts about the topic used for the game without looking at the game.||Participants could easily and correctly state 3-5 facts about the topic used for the game without looking at the game.||All participants could easily and correctly state 5-7 facts about the topic used for the game without looking at the game.||All participants could easily and correctly state 10 or more facts about the topic used for the game without looking at the game.|
|Accuracy of Content||3 pieces of information used in the game are not accurate.||2 pieces of information used in the game are not accurate.||1 piece of information used in the game is not accurate.||All pieces of information used in the game are accurate.|
|Rules||The rules were not written.||Rules were written, but participants had some difficulty figuring out the game.||Rules were written, but one part of the game needed slightly more explanation.||Rules were written clearly enough that all could easily participate.|
|Cooperative work||The group often did not work well together and the game appeared to be the work of only 1-2 students in the group.||The group worked fairly well together with all members contributing some work.||The group generally worked well together with all members contributing some quality work.||The group worked well together with all members contributing significant amounts of quality work.|
|Creativity||Little thought was put into making the game interesting or fun.||The group tried to make the game interesting and fun, but some of the things made it harder to understand/enjoy the game.||The group put some thought into making the game interesting and fun to play by using textures, fancy writing, and/or interesting characters.||The group put a lot of thought into making the game interesting and fun to play using textures, fancy writing, and/or interesting characters as shown by creative questions, game pieces and/or game board.|