Wednesday, November 12, 2014

First Quarter Review

Students in Mrs. Marr and Mrs. Sidik’s English classes explored the nature of heroes and monsters in stories and novels in the first quarter.  Students marveled that ancient Greeks asked similar questions about nature, human behavior and the origin of things in myths created thousands of years ago.  Ancient Greek myths have persisted for so long because they explore mysteries that we still face today, and because they are so emotionally and intellectually engaging.  How can we forget the dread we feel when Ulysses arrogantly reveals his true name to the Cyclops Polyphemus and is cursed by his father Poseidon?  Or the disappointment we feel when Ulysses’ men betray him again and again by sabotaging their return home?  Students have analyzed the heroic, yet flawed, nature of Ulysses (Odysseus) in Bernard Evslin's The Adventures of Ulysses, an adaptation of Homer's Odyssey, and are applying what they know to Beowulf in Robert Nye's adaptation of the Scandinavian epic.  They are thinking critically about the dual nature of man and the values that a culture expresses through its literature. Students have been annotating texts with Post-Its and writing double-entry journals (DEJ) to show their analyses of characters, plot and theme.  They have been refining their writing skills by composing essays with engaging openings, clear thesis statements and specific evidence from the text.  They have used the Quizlet and Edmodo Apps to work on their vocabulary skills.  For their creative writing assignment this quarter, students are composing stories featuring heroes and monsters.  Their stories are a wonderful amalgamation of the myths and fantasy novels they have read.  Inspired by the vivid stories and images of Greek gods, monsters and heroes in stories, in picture books, in digital texts on the Subtext App, in nonfiction texts, and in The Adventures of Ulysses, students have researched myths in Flex class.  They have written an essay making and supporting a claim about the myths that they have read. For enrichment, students may volunteer to participate in a Mythology Bee or in a lunch book club discussing Rick Riordan’s new novel The Blood of Olympus.  Students are encouraged to submit writing pieces to The Rebel Pen, South Middle’s Art and Literary Magazine, and to Middleview, South Middle's student newspaper.  Looking ahead to the second quarter, we will be focusing on historical fiction and nonfiction by studying 1776, The Musical, reading My Brother Sam Is Dead, participating in historical fiction book clubs, and reading The Notorious Benedict Arnold or Lincoln’s Grave Robbers, both written by visiting author Steve Sheinkin.  The after-school tutorials in English Language Arts and math have begun.  If you received a letter about your child’s participation in the tutorial(s), please encourage your child to attend to improve his or her skills.  Finally, a special thanks goes to the PTA for organizing and managing the Book Fair.  It is wonderful to see students excited about owning, reading and sharing the books they purchase.