THE TRUE YOU PART TWO Day 3

Poem A Day:

This song has a theme of “don’t quit!” It also uses the idea of a “show” or performance as a symbol for life. He says the show must go on- delivering the theme that you must persevere.

Mini-lesson:

Today we reviewed figurative language, symbolism, and incorporating these into their narrative rough drafts.

First, we read a passage from Vesper Stamper’s What the Night Sings. The passage is about the protagonist’s father. Gerta compares her father to his viola. There is a lot of rich metaphor and symbolism in this particular passage.

Next, students worked in pairs to jot down their “noticings.” What did this author do to create so much meaning in this short excerpt?

Students shared out their answers and I compiled them in our notes for today.

Then, we reviewed the notes I prepared for them about symbolism and dialogue. 

Active Engagement:

Students returned to their drafts and chose a selection to revise by incorporating figurative language. They worked in this doc on Google Classroom..

Here are a few examples of what these awesome kids did:

STUDENT #1

First: Copy and Paste the chunk of text from your story that you want to revise.

He slowly turns around and finishes the job. That’s it. My brother is gone, my only family. I stand there frozen, only able to cover my mouth with my hand, afraid I might be next. The man doesn’t turn around, he just leaves and I can sense the smirk on his face after the horrid thing he’s done. I wait a minute, then I run over, and I look at him in disbelief. I’m officially alone in this cruel world and I don’t know what to do. I fall to my knees, quietly sobbing. I think to myself and wonder where I’m going to end up next.  

 

Second: Revise. Rework the selection to include figurative language. Develop a symbol or create metaphors.

He slowly turns around and finishes the job. That’s it. My brother is gone, my only family. I stand there frozen, only able to cover my mouth with my hand, afraid I might be next. The man doesn’t turn around, he just leaves and I can sense the smirk on his face after the horrid thing he’s done. My brother signals me with the little energy he has left. I wait a minute, then I run over, and I look at him in disbelief. I crouch down to him, looking at him struggle. It hurts to look at him, watching the life slowly leave his eyes. He weakly grabs my wrist, and he hands me a necklace. Mom’s necklace. I look at the crescent moon pendant glistening in the sunlight as he puts it in my hand. My brother looks at me with pleading eyes and says: “Keep it. Use it as a guide against fear. Even when I’m not here, I will be. Live your life. Please.” I softly say: “Ok” as my voice fades alongside his life.  I’m officially alone in this cruel world and I don’t know what to do. I fall to my knees, quietly sobbing. I think to myself and wonder where I’m going to end up next. All I have is this necklace to guide me, but I don’t know where to start.

STUDENT #2

First: Copy and Paste the chunk of text from your story that you want to revise.

Harper hated long car rides. She had always been the type to feel nauseous on trips, and often avoided travel in general. But she hated this one especially. All the way from New York to Pennsylvania. All the way from her home to this new, foreign life she was expected to live.

Second: Revise. Rework the selection to include figurative language. Develop a symbol or create metaphors.

Harper hated long car rides. She had always been the type to feel nauseous on trips, and often avoided travel in general. The conditions of these roads were the real issue. They were broken; potholes all over the place, the pavement in complete disrepair. It’s really because no one cared to fix them. Everyday people saw how completely destroyed the roads were, but no one cared enough to help. Because of the condition they were in, these paths sent the car jolting with every pothole they hit, flinging Harper in every direction. It made her feel like she was completely out of control. Maybe she was. It’s true, Harper hated most long rides, but she hated this one especially. She was being bounced all the way from New York to Pennsylvania. All the way from her home to this new, foreign life she was expected to live. And of course no one had asked her, they just threw her in this old Honda, and let these roads throw her into an entirely different life.   

Closure:

I reminded students that their final narratives are due June 4 (B day) and June 5 (A Day).

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NMHS 2018 AUTHOR VISIT: Vesper Stamper

Today we had the pleasure of working with author and illustrator Vesper Stamper. 

 Photo by Katrina Sorrentino

Vesper recently published a young adult illustrated novel called What the Night Sings. It is about a young girl’s journey to self-discovery after surviving a number of concentration camps during the Holocaust.

The novel’s themes are so appropriate for the freshman curriculum at NMHS, and it is so relevant to our recurring theme of finding your own identity.

Students were able to ask Vesper questions about her writing and illustration process, and she also discussed the historical research that goes into writing a novel like this one.

THE TRUE YOU PART TWO Day 2

Poem A Day:

No Poem today.

Mini-lesson:

Today we began writing narratives for our final project. Before we did, however, we reviewed ways to get started with storytelling. We discussed the idea of “show, don’t tell”, developing characters, and selecting appropriate point of view. I posted our notes to Google Classroom.

Active Engagement:

Students engaged in a small webquest back through time to review the narrative techniques we have learned about this year.

First:

Students visited the Classroom Blog, read all four blog posts for the unit: “Shorts: Part 2”. This was the first unit we did in this course, and we learned a lot about crafting compelling stories. I asked them to scroll down to the bottom of the link, and read from the bottom to the top (They are in reverse chronological order).

Second:

Students reviewed this list we made at the beginning of the year of narrative techniques writers of short stories use. (This was actually your first essay prompt this year)

Finally:

Students continued to work on their narratives.

Closure:

I reminded students that their rough drafts are due next week.

THE TRUE YOU PART TWO Day 1

Poem A Day:

Today, we are watching a lot of music videos! We are gearing up for the final project of the year!
This song is very simple, so we did not analyze the lyrics. We did, however, analyze the video. I asked students to tell me what the story was, what the theme was, and what narrative techniques the creators used. They had a variety of answers, and all of them made sense. They thought the flying fish thing was definitely symbolic, but there was some debate about what exactly it symbolized (fear, challenges, life goals, etc). It was fun to see students connect it to Macbeth and American Born Chinese. They are really thinking now, and their analysis skills have improved significantly since the beginning of the year. They find meaning even in the simplest things. *does happy dance*

Mini-lesson:

Today I introduced the final project of the year

THE TRUE YOU     FINAL PROJECT

MTV-logo-2

 

It’s time to make our own addition to the NMHS freshman curricular theme: Finding One’s Identity.

Together as a class, we will write, direct and produce a full-length music video. The video will convey three separate narratives that develop the theme: Be true to yourself.

But first, we have to create the narratives.

Final Project: Part I. Craft an original narrative.

Each of you will write your own original narrative that develops the theme: Be true to yourself. From these, we will select three to portray in the video.

Remember:

Use the narrative techniques we have learned about this year to develop the theme.

Active Engagement:

To get students excited to make music videos, and not too afraid of pulling it all off (it sounds intimidating), we watched a few videos that had deep meaning, but were relatively easy to make.

This video is cool and has some interesting techniques I think the kids could pull off:

This is not my favorite song, but the video is cool, and cmon! An Asian woman with a mask of paint slowly being removed- couldn’t find a better fit for this unit.

Next, we watched this video. Again, very deep but very simple.

 

Active Engagement:

I told students that each of them was responsible for writing an original narrative that develops our chosen theme (from American Born Chinese). I told them that I would read each story aloud to the class anonymously and that the class would vote to decide which three we want to make into the video.

Students were pretty excited about this project. They were eager to pick songs (but we have to write narratives first).

I reminded students that this is their FINAL writing piece for my class this year. I told them that I wanted to see some growth from the short stories they wrote in the very beginning of this year. I reminded them that I expected them to try out and/or show off the fancy new narrative techniques they have learned this year.

In order to get ready, students worked in pairs to make a list of all the narrative techniques we have learned about/studied/tried this year. Then they shared them out, and I compiled a list that I put onto the bottom of their project handout that I posted to Google Classroom.

 

Closure:

Students brainstormed story ideas in their notebooks.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled lessons

with a completely random, totally unexpected, wildy indiscriminate and destructive SURPRISE TORNADO (even though tornadoes never hit Connecticut). School was cancelled for three days following the storm.

FUN FACT: Tornados turn the sky green. Who knew? Well, now we all do. From experience. The best kind of learning…

Now for a note about the blog posts/lessons for the end of this year.

Upon completing Macbeth in April, I could see that my honors students were ready, willing, and totally able to write essays about how Shakespeare developed themes in the play. They were asked to select any theme they wanted and to discuss how the theme of their choice was developed through use of narrative techniques. Each of them wrote about a different topic, and their insights were very interesting. It is clear that having a Socratic Seminar before writing had a huge impact on the development of their ideas and their newfound ease of discussing those ideas thoroughly. One student turned in a 14 page essay about the moral complications of murder. Very interesting stuff.

That said, my CP students (on B days) were not ready to tackle that paper, and not in a place to continue our discussion of Macbeth. I decided to go ahead and move forward with them into the next unit on the graphic novel American Born Chinese. These students read that novel and wrote an essay about how the theme “Be True To Yourself” was developed through use of narrative techniques in that novel. This was a much easier text for them to understand, and a much more engaging text for some of my reluctant readers. They worked through this unit while my A DAY students continued their work on Macbeth.

Now (MAY 21), all of my students are done writing essays, and they have all read the newest text American Born Chinese. From here on out, they are back onto the same schedule as we move into PART TWO of THE TRUE YOU unit: The Final Project.

Stay tuned… it is going to be epic.

THE TRUE YOU Day 6 (B DAY ONLY 5/15)

Poem A Day:

No Poem today. TOO MUCH TO DO 🙂

Mini-lesson:

Today I reviewed goals of writing conferences. Students worked on revising for their final drafts of their essays, and I conferred with students one-on-one.

Active Engagement:

Students who did not need the extra time today to work on their essays worked in groups on this American Born Chinese poster activity.

 

Closure:

I reminded students that their final drafts are due the next class and that we will begin PART TWO of this unit which includes our FINAL PROJECT of the year. There was much celebration.

 

THE TRUE YOU Day 5 (B DAY ONLY 5/11)

Poem A Day:

No Poem today. I was out sick.

Mini-lesson:

Today students read through notes that I compiled about how to write a conclusion paragraph with a “drop the mic” moment that avoids repetition.

Active Engagement:

Students worked independently on the conclusion paragraphs of their essays. If students had time and were finished writing, they were able to work in pairs to get a set of fresh eyes on their drafts. I gave them a copy of the rubric to use when reading their peer’s essay.

Closure:

Complete essays due Tuesday (5/15).