Sophomores Get Creative in Language and Literature
By Eliza Bryant
10th Grade English Teacher
This week, students have been hard at work in English II drafting the short stories that they will submit as their summative assessment of Unit 1. Since the second week of school, students have been developing “process journals” that serve as the preliminary steps of their writing process. They have created a central conflict, complex characters, and a plot that matches the traditional plot structure of most stories: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. This week, they have put all of their pre-writing ideas together into a three to seven page short story.
At first, some students were intimidated by the three page minimum expectation, but after they began writing, many realized that three pages was barely enough space to contain their whole story. Sophomore English teachers Ms. Bryant, Ms. Godinez, and Ms. Bussman taught students strategies for developing their creative ideas into a fully cohesive story. They helped students use descriptive imagery like similes, metaphors, personification, and hyperbole to write details that allow a reader to truly envision aspects like the location and mood of the story, and how characters are feeling. They also worked with students on weaving dialogue into their stories, which many students found to be an effective form of “indirect characterization”, which is when a character is described through their actions rather than straightforward descriptions.
As a final component of this assignment, students will write a short persuasive essay explaining which element of their story was most effective, and why. Students will practice using textual evidence from their own writing in order to prove their point and reflect on their experience as authors.
Up next, we will transition from short stories into our first novel of the year: Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Through the lens of this well-known novel, students will examine how people communicate their belief systems, and how belief systems can be a reflection of our point of view and values, all of which is rooted in our identity. Students will work through many difficult topics such as race, racism, moral and ethical development, and how historical events still impact our world today.