This week in AP Lit, we finished our multimodal websites and presented them in a “gallery walk.” I was pleasantly surprised by how well our website cam together. Corey and Sloan decided to code the whole video instead of use weebly. It was a challenge, but in the end it was worth it because we weren’t constrained by the weebly website builder. It gave us more creative freedom over our project. I was the writer and I am proud of what I wrote. I tried my best to write in a tone that reflected how I felt about the book. It was hard to retell the story without simply writing what was in the book, but I believe that I did a good job.
On Friday, I presented my group’s website to the class. It was a little hectic at first because we didn’t know how we were supposed to present until 5 minutes beforehand, but it was fine. I decided to present for my group because I had done the writing so I knew the answers to the questions that we had to answer. In the end, I was happy with the grade that we received. The way that the groups were structured forced everyone to work as a team and rely on each other’s strengths and weaknesses to succeed. I was happy that my group worked so well together. This project went much better than previous ones because I did not have to do the whole project on my own. It was nice to have help.
The idea that wisdom cannot be taught is a cornerstone of Siddhartha. After reading it, I too believe that real knowledge is gained through experience. As Siddhartha finds, it does not matter where you end up, but how you get there. This idea of the journey is very appealing to me. My motivation for school is at an all time low and I could not be more ready to graduate. Most of all, I am tired of having to look for the deeper reasoning behind everything. I think it is possible to analyze something so much that any meaning that it did have is taken away. While I am grateful to my teachers, I am ready to learn on my own.
Ap Lit has been the most hands off class that I have ever taken. The creative environment created by Mr. Schoenborn's way of teaching is stimulating. However, he is still our teacher and has to act as one. Siddhartha realized that he had been learning from teachers his whole life and it was time for him to teach himself. In many ways I feel the same way. The idea of continuing my education at another 4 year institution is far from what I want. Instead I am interested in the journey. I want to learn how to live by actually living, not being told how to live. It may be that I just need a break. In an ideal world, I would like to become a ferryman and learn to listen to the world the way that Vasudeva does. Being at peace without possessions and traditional success is beautiful.
This week in Ap Lit, we began working on our multimodal projects. This project gives us an opportunity to explore a new medium for storytelling. It is a sort of culmination of many of the previous projects that we have done in class throughout the year. My group decided to read Siddhartha and I couldn’t be happier. I really enjoyed reading the book and I am excited to work on the project. I think the project will go much better than it would have gone if I didn’t like the book because I care about the subject. We decided to look at how beginnings affect a person’s journey and as I read I found many interesting ways that we could answer that question.
Throughout the week, my group and I read the book and I finished it this weekend. That gives me the next three weeks to work on the project and create the experience of story in the form of a website. For most of the week we were working with minimal guidance, but for the most part I think that we worked well. While much of the class can be done on your own it felt weird not to have a teacher there to answer a question or explain things. I think that if anything, the week was a small taste of what life will be like in college, with the teacher there as a simple helping hand instead of a guide helping us through each and every project.
This week in AP Lit we continued to work on our Pecha Kucha projects. I decided to focus on the insanity of war. I read Catch 22 and Slaughterhouse 5. Both of these books have a similar anti war message that show how war can drive a person to madness. As I looked at outside sources for my project, I found an interesting article written in 1935 about the harmful impacts that war has on the human psyche. It was interesting to read an article that was written so long ago deal with the same things that I am talking about in my presentation. This lead me to believe that the insanity of war does not change.
To show this, I plan on using some pictures of war from different time periods. The images were very powerful, and made me realize the power that an image has on storytelling. It seems that one of the main themes of a pecha kucha style presentation is the absence of words. While some might think that a lack of images means that the presentation will be less impactful, the opposite is actually true. The audience will end up focusing more on the speaker and using the pictures to establish a meaningful connection to the subject matter. Sometimes, too many words can make for a cluttered, barely intelligible presentation that leaves the audience more confused than they were before the presentation. The short, simple structure of a pecha kucha style presentation steers clear of these pitfalls.
This week in AP Lit, we spent Monday and Tuesday finishing our This I Believe videos. My video was already finished, so I spent time working on other things and reading. Finally, on Wednesday we watched our videos in front of the whole class. I was nervous about watching my video in front of everyone, but once it started playing I became more confident and proud of the video that I had made. I was happy to hear that many of my classmates also enjoyed my video and the message that it had. I was impressed by the quality of many of the videos that my peers produced. Their videos and music matched their belief and their belief was interesting. I was surprised by how much some people opened up in their videos and talked about subjects such as depression or bullying that they had experienced in the past. It takes a lot of courage to do that and I was proud of them for being brave.
Additionally, on Friday we had a substitute and we began to look at our Independent Reading Projects that are due in a week or so. The Pecha Kucha style presentation does not seem too intimidating, but I definitely need some direction. I think that I have a good topic and picked books that connect well to what I want to say, but I am going to need help pulling everything together. I will also want to practice the timing of my proposal a lot. We watched some of the best presentations from 2015 and it really shows if you have practiced.
Over the course of working on my This I Believe paper and video, I learned a lot. Digital storytelling is hard. Not only do you have to have a good story, but your video has to be meaningful as well. When I first recorded my voice I did not realize how foreign I would sound. I had a certain idea of the way that I sounded and I was surprised when I first heard me recorded voice. After that, I began putting my video together. I had not put any music in the background and it felt as if the video was way too long and boring. However, after I added music, the quality of the video improved greatly.
In addition to the sound of my voice and the huge difference that a little music can make, I learned that the tone and pacing of your video should reflect your subject. I talk about childhood and a loss of creativity in my story and my video is sort of overcast, adding to the mood. Also, the tone of my voice is conversational, but not necessarily happy. It also reflects the mood of my story. Overall, I was very happy with how everything turned out. I like my story and I think that both the music and the video compliment it very well. I am excited to see the videos that my classmates made and view the way that they chose to interpret their own stories.
This week in AP Lit we started our This I Believe projects. I was absent on Monday, but I watched a Ted Talk by JJ Abrams about the power of story that gave me some good ideas for my own This I Believe essay. For a long time, I sat staring at a blank google doc trying to figure out what I wanted to say. I wanted it to be a meaningful belief that was relevant to me. Eventually, I decided to write about the feeling of growing up and the scary world that I have ahead of me. It is very relevant to what is happening in my life right now. Every time I see my little siblings I realize how old I am. I decided to title it: “I believe in coloring outside the lines.” One problem that I am running into is that I am not writing it the way that I would speak. Instead, it sounds more like a formal essay. Im probably trying too hard to sound smart in it. Anyways, I am going to have to go back through and change it because the story definitely does sound better in a casual tone. I hate to “dumb it down” but I am going to have to. This form of more colloquial writing is something that I am not used to, but it is probably a good skill to have. Overall, I am excited about the I Believe essay because of the huge creative freedom that I have been given to tell my story the way that I see fit.
This week we did the College Ready Writing Program with the goal of formulating an argument and presenting it to a group. While it felt like the structure could be tedious at times I think that it was helpful. It is good to be able to look at a few articles and form an opinion about them. This will definitely be helpful on the AP test and other tests where you have to write an essay in a limited amount of time. One reason that I liked the activity was because I felt that the topic was both relevant and interesting. The activity created some interesting discussion and valid points were addressed on both sides of the argument. I especially appreciated the debate that we had. I think that it was fun, but it also helped with my reading and writing skills. I did not come to class expecting to have a debate, but I believe it turned out pretty well. Along with analyzing poems and texts as usual, I think it would be very beneficial for us to practice taking a stance and arguing for or against it more often.
When we had eventually come to a decision, we had to formulate a small writing piece that incorporated textual evidence to support our argument. I really enjoyed this. I felt that I made a good argument, and after the peer review, I was able to make it even stronger. The guidelines put in place by the CRWP for peer review were very helpful and I plan on using them in the future. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how this past week’s lesson went and I am excited to continue the CRWP.
This week in AP Lit we began by finishing our presentations on Macbeth and existentialism. I am happy that we are finally finished with this project because it took nearly 4 weeks, not including the time we took off for christmas break and snow days. When it came to be our turn to present, I believe that we accomplished all that we set out to do. The grade that we got represented what I believe that we deserve fairly well. Group projects are hard because I never seem to get out of them what I put in. Usually, in a group project I end up doing the bulk of the work because I know that I am reliable and will get it done. Then, when it comes to actually presenting, I have to rely on my group members to pull their weight. They usually do, but I still do not like the idea that someone else can be accountable for the grade that I receive. When it comes to school, I like to be the master of my successes and failures. While I know that learning to work successfully in a group is an integral part of my education and I will certainly do it in the future, I am much more comfortable doing things on my own.
This week we also did the FRE for our first book of the trimester. I was excited about this because it means that our pecha kucha presentation is that much closer. I am pretty excited to do this presentation because it is solo and I am pretty happy with the books that I chose for my topic.
This week in AP Lit, we began by reading a new Poem of the Week. I liked how both of the poems dealt with themes relating to Spring, but they did it in very different ways. Of all of the poems that we have read so far, I enjoyed the poem “Spring and All” by Williams the most. It created a beautiful image of the end of winter, which feels so cold and eternal at the moment, and I liked the way that WIlliams used personification to give the plants human characteristics.
We also continued working on our Shakespeare/Critical Theory projects. My group has a better grasp on the story of Macbeth and the theory of existentialism so we began brainstorming how we will organize our paper. As we brainstormed, we came to an interesting realization. Throughout this project we have been trying to contort and fit the story of Macbeth into the theory of existentialism. Because existentialism is such a new theory, we were having a hard time thinking about Shakespeare and MAcbeth having anything in common. However, we realized that the themes of existentialism have been present for thousands of years but they were not named and categorized until the middle of the 20th century. This mode of thinking enabled us to entertain the idea that Shakespeare could have been an existentialist himself. He may not have had the words for it, but there are existentialist ideas throughout his plays.
I also enjoyed the lecture that Dr. McDermott gave. I could tell that she was very knowledgeable. When my group got to talk to her, she affirmed that our ideas about our topic were on the right path and she gave us interesting questions to help furhter stimulate our exploration.