What’s Going On In Our Classes – English
Here’s a snapshot of what’s been going on in our classrooms!
We wish Mr. Justin Bank the best of luck as he leaves RHS. He was filling in for Mrs. Nicole Bowden while she was on maternity leave. In his time with us, he truly embodied the Bulldog spirit. The students and staff will certainly miss his enthusiasm and passion! We also are pleased to welcome Mrs. Bowden back to RHS.
Mr. Justin Bank – RHS
- Students in Mr. Bank’s 200 English class have just concluded their unit on “The Search for a Voice.” Many of the short story readings linked back to the Puritan time period, as students spent some time researching and understanding Puritan morals and values. Students were then tasked to read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. While reading, the class focused on the conflicts between various individuals and society, as well as the profound impact that the witch trials had on early American society. Students just completed a project in which they were tasked to place Crucible characters into various social classes and prove through textual evidence why each character was in the appropriate tier.
- Students in Mr. Bank’s 400 Honors English class have just concluded their unit on “Self Discovery.” Students read multiple short stories that dealt with various ethical dilemmas and participated in multiple Socratic Seminars throughout the marking period. The class then read Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. During this unit, students were given a brief introduction into the Gothic period and spent time studying vocabulary from the novel. Students also created various essays that focused on the analysis of the text and student creativity. Students just completed an essay where they were tasked to create a fictional story for the monster where we find out exactly why he was so miserable.
Mrs. Megan Collins- UMS
- ELA Accelerated 7- Students in Mrs. Collins’s ELA Accelerated 7 classes began the year by studying text structure and author’s purpose. They also learned the components of an objective summary and applied their knowledge of these skills by reading short literary and informational texts. For the past few weeks, students have been reading and discussing books centered around the theme of “journey” within their small group literature circles. In the coming weeks, students will begin writing analysis essays on how the main character has changed throughout the novel.
- Got Game Elective- Students in Mrs. Collins’s “Got Game” elective began the year by learning about the components of games (i.e, players, objective, rules, game mechanics, space). We played traditional board games, like Trouble, Yahtzee, Scattergories, and Sorry!, to analyze how the components of these games interact. Next, students were introduced to strategy games used critical thinking skills while playing popular strategy games, including Risk, Clue, Parcheesi, Settlers of Catan, and Chess. Students researched and wrote strategy guides designed to help a new player win at the game. Currently, we are finishing a unit on games as narratives, in which students applied the components of stories (characters, setting, plot) to gaming. Students created characters using a Dungeons and Dragons template and wrote backstories for their characters. Students also learned about the components of plot development by writing interactive “Choose your Own Adventure” stories using Google Slides.
Mrs. Lauren Djecki – UMS
- This quarter Mrs. Djecki’s eighth grade classes read The Outsiders. Students worked to improve their analysis skills by evaluating character motivations and decisions, and forming open questions that allowed for extended group discussion. Students focused on their writing skills by comparing and contrasting two characters from the book, and finding evidence to support their overall analysis. They are currently completing a culminating project that allows them to creatively connect to the novel, and requires them to present their work to the class.
Mrs. Melissa Dougard – RHS
- Honors Eng. 100 students are currently reading, listening to, and watching various clips from Romeo and Juliet. We have been examining various themes pertaining to this age-old classic of Shakespeare’s: love at first sight, betrayal, revenge. The theme of identify (theatrum mundi) has been especially interesting as we are discussing what distinguishes our roles from who we truly are.
- In AP Language, we have been busy practicing rhetorical analysis in order to strengthen our writing skills. Students have completed “station work” as we looked at previous AP prompts, annotated various passages, and constructed rhetorical analysis essays. Students are familiarizing themselves with the AP rubric, practicing “grading” each other and themselves in order to improve their analytical writing skills. Also, we have read and discussed Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman; our Socratic seminars covered thoughtful topics/questions, such as, “Is it a son/daughter’s responsibility to care for his/her aging parent?” and “Is it better to be honest with others, even though that honesty may destroy the person’s spirit?”
Mr. Brian Ersalesi – RHS
- The students in Mr. Ersalesi’s AP Language class had a very eventful first marking period. Aside from delving into the reasons for writing, students have begun studying rhetorical devices and their impact on a writer’s words. Students completed an analytical reading of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and participated in a week long study focusing upon “The American Dream” as it applies to various generations. Students were charged with studying The Silent Generation, The Greatest Generation, The Baby Boomer Generation, Generation X, Millenials, and the new iGen Generation. They studied financial, cultural and historical information and then had to determine the American Dream for each specific generation. This culmniated in 20 minute multimedia presentations that included video, music, and information. Students also began a riveting discussion about the art of persuasion and argument. Rather than use tried and true examples (school uniforms, legalization of marijuana, lowering the drinking age), the students researched the history and definition of a “sandwich” in order to develop an argument that answered the age-old question: “Is a hot dog a sandwich?” Based on research from the USDA, communications with the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, newspaper articles about the topic and primary source interviews from Rutt’s Hut, the students were able to master the concept of persuasion and argument and write a position statement using the research. Portions of their debate were even published on a food blog and debated by celebrity chefs from the Food Network!
Ms. Dawn Gallo-Pasquale RHS
- English 400- Classes compared and contrasted the differences between Frankenstein and Edward Scissorhands, with particular emphasis on the isolation they experience and the relationships with their creators
- College Writing- Classes are researching their favorite children’s stories and fairytales. They are writing narrative pieces, reviewing and writing about a peer’s paper, and will finally complete more research, culminating in a visual presentation about their chosen tale.
- Journalism- The class is currently working on projects they have chosen about journalism during various time periods to determine how journalism has evolved. They will present their information in a visual presentation
Mrs. Maria Garo – RHS
- In Mrs. Garo’s English 200 Honors classes, students have examined the influences of religion in Puritan beliefs, values, and moral systems and analyzed and debated how morals have shifted from the early 1600’s to present day. Students have also evaluated how Jonathan Edwards utilized the persuasive mode of Pathos in his Sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” paying particular attention to how how fear can sway public opinion and cause mass hysteria. Students have completed a research based project in which they collaboratively investigated The Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism, The Protestant Reformation, and New England and recorded information on a shared google slides document with the class. Students worked collaboratively to explore multiple power structures within the play while creating and presenting text based group projects in which they had to defend their positions. Currently, students are working rigorously to analyze how societal fears cause fundamental beliefs of justice and basic morals and principals to be disregarded in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. They will research modern examples of Mass Hysteria and make connections to the play while composing a comparative analysis research and text based essay.
- Students in English 300 honors examined the difference between how media idealized American life in the 1950’s and the reality that exists in the opening scene of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Upon viewing several commercials from the time period, students conducted independent research to determine what post-war America was like in preparation for reading the play. While actively reading, students worked collaboratively in stations on hyperdocs in which they analyzed internal and external conflict, examined family dynamics and character relationships, evaluated the main character in terms of a modern tragic hero, and analyzed themes of the American Dream, Reality vs. Dreams, Freedom vs. Confinement, and the Nature of Success while providing relevant and meaningful textual evidence to support all responses. Additionally, students created higher order analytical questions to analyze multiple perspectives of the text and propel a collegiate discussion that probes reason by posing and responding to diverse perspectives and analysis.
Mrs. Sherrianne Herninko – UMS Library
- The UMS library has been very busy this marking period. Mrs. Herninko’s Architecture students finished making their treehouse models which all turned out amazing! Students in Mrs. Sabatino’s classes came to the Makerspace to make colorful 3D cell models. Mrs. Hetzel’s and Mrs. Sandmeyer’s coding classes made video games using Bloxels and Ipads. The zSpace has been used by Architecture students to learn about Greek architecture and city skyscrapers. The Amusement Parks and Bridges class visited the Makerspace to learn how to use Tinkercad to design bridges that can be 3D printed.
- Lunch time in the Makerspace continues to offer students the opportunity to work with electronics, crochet, and even use the new sewing machine to make bags and pillows!
Mrs. Colleen Kiick – UMS
- In Mrs. Kiick’s accelerated and co-teaching ELA8 classes, students are finishing their novel study of S.E. Hinton’s novel, The Outsiders. In addition to the usual reading assignments, questions, and quizzes, they have looked deeper into themes of identity, belonging, family, and stereotyping and completed activities to relate and internalize these important lessons. They have used Newsela.com to connect fictional themes of the novel to non-fiction articles which carry the same issues. They have analyzed important quotations and using their multiple intelligences to show the meaning quotations through their artwork. They have begun a “Literary Devices Interactive Notebook” to help illustrate different literary devices they find in their reading and attempt to use them in their own writing, as well. They are looked deeply into poetry, specifically Robert Frost’s poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
- In Mrs. Kiick’s Musical on Broadway and in Hollywood elective, students are moving through Broadway history as well as watching/ discussing a Broadway show of each time period studied. For example, students started the year with a unit called “Broadway and the American Dream,” during which they learned about the different types of early Broadway productions and why early immigrants set up such a platform. Then students studied Newsies, which was set in that 1900’s time period. We made connections about unions, vaudeville, Teddy Roosevelt, etc., as we discussed literary concepts of characterization, plot, themes, lyrics, etc.
- In Mrs. Kiick’s Digital Media Studies, students are currently analyzing the role digital photography plays in our media and trying their hand at the “Black and White Photo Challenge”. Students are challenged to take 5 digital photographs of aspects of their daily lives, not including people. They will then learn to edit their digital photos, discussing the different characteristics and mood of a color photograph vs. a black and white photograph. They will finish with a presentation of their photographs, why they chose their subjects, and how they decided to frame and edit their images as they did.
Mrs. Kelly Lancaster – RHS
- Mrs. Lancaster’s Honors English 100 classes are off to a great start. Students are currently reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, where they will continue to use to complete interdisciplinary lessons that offer each student opportunities to explore and analyze the time period, the characters, and the major events found in the novel. Students have also investigated and reflected upon excerpts from Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval’s text, Grit to Great, which they are using alongside Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, to analyze the different motives behind the beliefs and actions of specific characters. In addition to the readings, each student has completed a narrative and an argumentative writing assignments for Quarter 1. Students participated in Writer’s Workshops that offer each student opportunities to work collaboratively to strengthen his or her writing. Writer’s Workshops require each student to analyze multiple drafts and offer actionable feedback to his or her fellow writers. In addition, the students have been introduced to new words during vocabulary lessons. Throughout these lessons, each student has been challenged to expand his or her vocabulary by categorizing unit terms into tiers.
- Mrs. Lancaster and Mr. Bergen’s English 100 classes completed two required writing assignments for Quarter 1, using a color coded open-ended response template as a guide. Students also participated in Writer’s Workshops and worked collaboratively to strengthen each student’s writing. Writer’s Workshops require each student to analyze multiple drafts and offer actionable feedback to his or her fellow writers. Students are continuing to read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and are using textual evidence to complete interdisciplinary lessons that encourage analysis, strengthen comprehension skills, and foster a greater understanding of the time period, the characters, and the major events in the novel. Students have also been challenged to show the different psychological coping mechanisms deployed by conflicting characters in the novel. Each student has also been expanding his or her reading and writing skills by taking part in multiple IXL exercises throughout the quarter.
Mrs. Grace Lutwyler – RHS
- In English 107/207, we are currently enjoying Shakespeare’s beloved play Macbeth. To better understand the play, the class has researched various aspects of the Bard’s time and culture. Students have enjoyed acting out the play with props and are continuing to respond to projects that enhance the play.
- In English 307/407, the class is currently reading Othello, the Shakespearean tragedy that still captivates the audience with its themes of ambition and betrayal. To familiarize the students with the culture and time period the play was written, students have done various projects to glean a better understanding of Shakespeare’s audience and the themes in the play.
Mrs. Maggie MacFadyen-Doty- UMS
- Students in the eighth grade ELA classes have been reading S.E. Hinton’s novel The Outsiders. Throughout the novel students have been keeping a characterization packet, citing information and evidence to track the evolution of a chosen character. At the conclusion, students will create a written analysis of the character, along with a visual component to demonstrate both the internal and external make-up of their characters. In addition, while reading, students dove into poetry analysis using Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and the lyrics of a chosen song.
- Seventh grade students jumped right into Gary Paulsen’s novel Hatchet, starting off with some research on survival. After watching a video on animal defense mechanisms and survival skills, students wrote a short piece relating how they would survive in the wilderness using some of the information they learned from the video. As students got further into the novel and noted the challenges facing the main character, they reflected on their own personal challenges and composed their first formal essay detailing the challenge, how it affects daily life, and what can be learned from overcoming and/or facing this challenge. Their final products were honest, thoughtful, and inspiring.
- Pop Culture students started off in the 1950’s identifying the economics, trends, pastimes, and headlines of the period. After creating a comparison between the 1950’s and 2017, students moved right into the 1960’s and 70’s studying the fashions, music, and activism movements of both periods. Now in the 1980’s students are creating graffiti murals to detail research into the decade.
Mr. Jason Narozny – RHS
- In Honors English 200, we have just concluded our studies of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, where we have been analyzing Miller’s development of Theme as well as the play’s connection to the dangers of a corrupt government, the abuse of power, mob mentality, and what this reveals about the human condition when living in a post-truth world. We will soon move on to Romanticism, where will will study close readings of poetry and short stories.
- The AP Lit class has recently concluded its Short Story Unit, wherein we practiced close reading analysis, particularly focused on how authors utilize the art of fiction to achieve a purpose. We have also been continually honing our test taking skills via Multiple Choice section practice, short writings, peer editing, and full-length essays. We have also started (and will soon be finalizing) our studies of Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome, through which the students will practice analyzing and writing about the use of theme, symbol, tone, and narrative voice.
- The Humanities class has been busy. After studying the Ancient Greek concept of Arete through their art and philosophy, we contrasted their culture with Medieval Times, in hopes of proving the Dark Ages were not as dark as first thought. We supplemented the Medieval Unit with a trip to The Cloisters museum where the students were able to practice “reading” art. We have recently begun studying the Renaissance, both Italian and Northern, through student presentations. Each student was assigned a specific area, concept, or person to research and then teach the class about. We will continue this unit by applying what we know of Greek Arete to the concept of Humanism in the Renaissance.
Miss Marie Palma and Mr. Mark Bergen – RHS
- Miss Palma and Mr. Bergen’s 200 classes have just concluded their study of Arthur Miller’s classic play, The Crucible. Prior to reading the play, students learned about the history of the Salem Witch Trials in conjunction with the 1950s Red Scare/McCarthy era to understand the concept of an allegorical play. During this unit, students participated in reading the play by conducting reader’s theatre in order to interpret stage directions for analyzing tone and character personalities. After the conclusion of their reading, students viewed the film while completing an Active Viewing Guide to solidify their understanding of the complex plot. Currently, students are completing a series of writer’s workshop sessions in class while drafting their persuasive essays citing evidence for how and why John Proctor is a classic tragic hero.
- In English 400, we have just concluded our study of Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, Frankenstein. During this unit, students read, discussed, and identified various aspects of the major themes of the novel including nature vs. nurture, revenge, guilt and remorse, the importance of identity and family upbringing and the repercussions of rejection and childhood abandonment. Throughout this unit students studied various film clips while analyzing how directors use camera angles, lighting, sound, and other effect to enhance a character’s emotions or the plot line. While viewing portions of a film adaptation of Frankenstein, the students then applied their knowledge of film technique in order to access and analyze how Frankenstein was similar, different, or enhanced by film techniques. Lastly, students worked in writer’s workshop forum to complete a compare and contrast paper analyzing Victor Frankenstein and the monster through a psychological lens by using various primary sources like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Ms. Erica Prinzo – RHS
- Ms. Prinzo’s English 300 classes have started off this year with a number of exciting challenges. The students have written three full-length essays and completed many creative projects. In this first marking period, the class examined the theme of “individuality” in a series of American short stories while learning and practicing annotation strategies. Also, students have completed a few PARCC-like assignments, requiring them to read and answer questions related to an informational reading selection. Their foundations of reading and writing strategies were put to the test when reading Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. The class analyzed Miller’s commentary on the “folly” of the American dream and how it affected the main character, Willy Loman. We also explored the main tenets of Existentialism and analyzed how “existential crisis” affects the story and how it applies to the overall human condition. We are excited to begin Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger after our Thanksgiving break!
Mr. Michael Stracco – RHS
- To see what’s going on in Mr. Stracco’s class, please check out his blog here: http://www.mstracco.com/blog