Here’s what’s been going on in our 7th-12th grade classrooms during the month of January!
Mrs. Bowden – RHS
- APLAC: The students are finishing the Education unit, which is culminating in a project where the students will develop an educational philosophy for their own high school. After reading many essays about education in the US and abroad, the experience of students from different demographics, and the definition of education from various authors, the students are being asked to formulate their own philosophy of education. The next unit the APLAC student will be working on is the student of Language. The articles and essays that they read will cover all aspects of language from “What does language reveal about a person?” to “Should America have an official language?” We will read a number of essays from acclaimed authors like Amy Tan, George Orwell, and Walt Whitman. In addition to the shorter nonfiction pieces, the students are currently reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.
- The English 200 students have just finished their study of Romanticism and Transcendentalism and are bracing for the Roaring Twenties with their study of The Great Gatsby. Over the next month, the students will be reading the novel and discussing major themes like the American Dream, the conflict that exists in society and class, and the influence of the past.
- The Generational Media classes focused on editorials and sports writing. They are currently working on their own video editorials using iMovie. Each student selected their own controversial topic and will be performing interviews and editing their footage into an 8-10 minute editorial.
Ms. Chamberlain – UMS
- Chamberlain’s ELA 7 classes are currently reading The Watsons Go to Birmingham and learning about the Civil Rights Movement. They enjoyed the first half of the novel, in which they connected to the protagonist Kenny, and even his crazy older brother Byron. They will soon discover how this family, known by some as “The Weird Watsons,” becomes part of a moment in history that will never be forgotten.
- Chamberlain’s ELA 8 Accelerated classes are reading the nonfiction novel, To Be a Slave. Through reading this book, which combines actual slave narratives with brief historical context, students are attempting to understand just how the institution of slavery ever began in the first place. Eye-opening and horrifying accounts have altered what they thought they knew, and encouraged them to identify the ways that society has changed since then.
Mrs. Collins – UMS
- In Mrs. M. Collins’s ELA 7 classes, students have been learning about the Civil Rights Movement prior to reading the novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham. Students are currently working on a project in small groups, in which they plan, film, and edit an iMovie around an event from the Civil Rights era. At this point in the project, students have completed their research and drafted a script. They are now revising their scripts, casting their roles, and acquiring props to prepare for filming in February.
Mrs. Dougard – RHS
- The English 300 classes are working on creating “Character Vision Boards” for one assigned character as we read A Raisin in the Sun. We have been discussing the concept of the American Dream and how it varies from character to character.
- The Honors English 100 classes are currently reading Lord of the Flies and preparing debates based on the turning point in the novel. Each student is working with a “debate team” and is very copiously writing his/her debate speech.
Mr. Ersalesi – RHS
- In Mr. Ersalesi and Mrs. Lutwyler’s English 300 class, the students have been working on a play analysis of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. Students have been using poetry of the Harlem Renaissance to connect themes of racism, classicism, and education with the concept of achieving the American Dream. From a literary standpoint, students have been delving into the creation and analysis of specific character and have begun creating characterization charts for the main characters in this play.
Mrs. Gallo-Pasquale – RHS
- English 400 students are beginning the study of Shakespeare’s Othello. They will take the themes they find important, and search for modern day examples to illustrate that as much as life changes, it sometimes still stays the same.
- The Writing for College students are beginning their research into fairy tales and children’s stories and the sometimes esoteric meanings behind them. They will choose their favorite, do research and become experts on their chosen tale.
- The Sports in Literature class is starting their class by defining and discussing common themes seen in all of literature about sports. Leadership, superstitions and jinxes, the definitions of success and failure, rivalries and hero worship are all ideas they will search for in the texts they read.
Mrs. Garo – RHS
- In Mrs. Garo’s Film and Literature course, students have begun an introductory study of major turning points and milestones in film history spanning from 1890-1900. Students will explore the invention and evolution of the camera and projector and investigate innovative editing techniques and special effects. Students will both identify and explore the effects of such techniques in Georges Melies’ “A Trip to the Moon” and Edwin Porter’s “The Great Train Robbery.”
- In English 200, students are conducting research about American life in the 1920’s as an introduction to reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Students will work collaboratively to create a digital magazine in which they become experts in their topics. Students will focus on women and women’s suffrage in the 1920’s, current and social events of the era, trends and fashion, music and art, and crimes, trials, and prohibition. Students will present their findings to the class in order to gain appreciation and understanding of the era.
- In English 200 Honors, students have cultivated their knowledge of Transcendentalism by composing a reflective response in which they examined themes of the individual, nonconformity, the imagination, and role of civil disobedience in accordance with their own lives and current events. As an introduction to reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby,students are investigating the economic, political, and social climate of the 1920’s and examining the role and influence of art, music, and literature during the era. Students will work collaboratively to complete a research based project in which they create a digital magazine to present to the class.
Mrs. Herninko – UMS
- The library at UMS is busy post-holiday season! Students have been participating in a few fun maker challenges. They have been making DIY lip balms and new Lego Star Wars ships. Classes have been using the Zspace to explore the digestive system, architectural structures, and the process of mitosis. The Not Your Traditional Literature class came in to check out graphic novels for their first exploration assignment. The 8th grade ELA classes will be coming in during the month of February to use the makerspace to create 3D models that represent different decades. Herninko’s Architecture elective is underway, and they will begin constructing Tree House models soon!
Mrs. Kiick – UMS
- Kiick’s ELA classes have just concluded their “American Experience” unit. After reading a collection of short stories from the book Time Capsule, students presented “Pecha Kucha” style, without using written notes and only simple, timed Google slides. They first decided upon 20 items that they would put in a time capsule to represent their own teenage life, practiced their public speaking and listening skills, and did a fabulous job! Students often gave their peers positive feedback, which means a lot!
- Moving forward into February, students will begin a “Prejudice Reduction” unit by reading Daniel’s Story, a 1993 novel by Carol Matas, telling the story of a young boy named Daniel’s experiences during the Holocaust. Daniel, the narrator, describes pictures in his photo album throughout the story. Therefore, the four sections of the text are subtitled Pictures of Frankfurt, Pictures of Lodz, Pictures of Auschwitz, and Pictures of Buchenwald. Depending on the regular or accelerated level of the ELA course, students will complete different questions, writing assignments, and projects to accompany this text.
Mrs. Lancaster – RHS
- Lancaster’s English 100 classes are currently reading Lord of the Flies. The focus has been on analysis, with significant attention on symbolism. To enhance the experience, the class explored the neurological activity that occurs as the human brain recognizes a symbol. In addition, the class has analyzed the leadership roles among the characters in the novel and explored the challenges people experience when working collaboratively. The students have created activities using digital technology and utilized outside sources to gain a greater understanding of Lord of the Flies. All of the experiences are designed to strengthen each student’s writing and reading comprehension skills.
- Lancaster and Ms. Valdes’s English 200 classes are currently reading The Great Gatsby. The students are using additional sources to compare and contrast historical and contemporary figures with the characters in the novel. For example, the students read an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs and were asked to analyze the way the author characterized Jobs. Afterwards, the students analyzed F. Scott Fitzgerald’s crafting of Jay Gatsby. The experience was designed to both strengthen each student’s writing skills as well as strengthen his or her reading comprehension skills. In addition, the class has been analyzing the symbols in The Great Gatsby.
Ms. Lefkovits-Callaghan – RHS
- In English 300, students turned in the first draft of what will be a lengthy paper treating their research and analytical work on The Catcher in the Rye. As we embark on an exploration of A Raisin in the Sun, students are learning about the historical context — e.g., redlining, Civil Rights, etc. — behind Hansberry’s work. The deep character work that students complete for Raisin and the revising of their Catcher papers will serve to bolster their ability to write with precision and clarity.
- In English 300 Honors, students completed two phases of the lengthy paper that will eventually encompass their reading of Death of a Salesman, A Raisin in the Sun, and The Catcher in the Rye. As students take in Holden Caulfield’s iconic, stream-of-consciousness journey through adolescence and New York City, they will continue to engage with non-fiction articles and essays that help to deepen their appreciation for mid-20th century America and its lasting impact.
- In English 400 Honors, students capped off their study of The Theban Plays by participating in a mock trial centered on the issue of Oedipus’ tragic downfall. Taking on various roles, students independently developed arguments and examinations as legal counsel, researched and delivered testimony as witnesses (major characters from the plays), and deliberated the evidence as jurors. Coming in the wake of their study of logic and fallacy, students were better able to discern the credibility and merit of the arguments set forth. As students move on to Shakespeare’s Othello, they will wrestle with the interplay of morality and ethics in the face of interpersonal conflict and war. This analysis will set the foundation for an evaluation of morality in modern times and of theater’s role as a critical lens through which to view society.
Mrs. Lutwyler – RHS
- The English 107/207 classes are currently reading Pearl S. Buck’s novel The Good Earth. It tells the tale of peasant farm life in China during the first quarter of the 20th century. They are enjoying its universal story of life and hope that transcends over the centuries.
- The Eng. 307/407 class is currently reading the riveting novel Fallen Angels. This story chronicles the coming of age of a fearful 17-year-old boy from Harlem forced to fight in the Vietnam War. Students researched background information about this time period and have an understanding of the philosophy of why the US entered the war.
Mrs. MacFadyen-Doty – UMS
- Mac-Doty’s 8th grade classes are moving further along in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. We have been investigating the characters of Jem, Scout, Atticus, Dill, and Calpurnia, as well as all of the other eccentric folks of Maycomb County. In addition, students have been working on connecting questions for each chapter, highlighting themes such as racism, empathy, respect, equality. Students are eager to find out just who Boo Radley “really” is.
- Mac-Doty’s and Mrs. Collins’ 7th grade classes are wrapping up their short stories over the next few weeks. As a culminating project, we will be composing a written piece reflecting on the theme of heroism and how this thread has run through all of the stories, as well as the article, “The Man in the Water.” After we wrap this up, we will be moving on to the novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963.
- With the beginning of the third marking period, the new Pop Culture classes will begin looking at the 1950’s. Among the topics on hand are commercials, technology, music, and popular books of this decade.
Mr. Narozny – RHS
- The English 200 classes have been covering Transcendental literature, including excerpts from Walden and “Self Reliance,” as well as various poetry. To understand the message of the literature and philosophy, the students engaged in an analysis of the film Dead Poets Society, which uses poetry to teach about individualism, free thinking, and the dangers of conformity.
- The AP students have been working on a Post-Colonialism unit including Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart. We discussed and analyzed the presentation in literature of native cultures through the perspectives of both the colonists and the colonized, all the while relating these activities back to AP test preparation through close reading and writing analysis.
- The Humanities class finalized its semester-long study of Western Civilization by working on a Romanticism project and presentation. The students were asked to identify traits of Romanticism in various works of literature, art, and music. They then taught the class about their findings, engaging the students with various artworks and Romantic era composition, as well as detailed analyses of different poems and writings.
Mr. Stracco – Click to Read Mr. Stracco’s Classroom Update
Ms. Westra –
- In Ms. Westra’s English 100 class, students have finished their close reading of Romeo and Juliet with a final project showing students’ understanding of the play, the themes, and Shakespeare’s life and times.
- In Ms. Westra’s English 400 class, students have started Titus Andronicus and have begun reflecting on how revenge leads the characters’ actions.