writing about writing is cool.

23/05/2012 § Leave a comment

Forgive me, I wrote a lot.

I had to write a lot this year. I had to write a lot for every single class. My classes this year were Maths, Social Studies, Spanish, World Literature, PE, Interlude, Publications and Physics/Environmental Science. Believe it or not, I had to write a lot for every single one of those classes. Yes, that includes Publications, Interlude and even PE. I was constantly writing investigations, reports, design cycles, lab reports, write-ups, reflections, stories, letters, anything and everything. Sometimes the writing had a clear purpose or goal – there was a certain technique that we had to study or a concept we needed to investigate. Usually this was for Social Studies, World Literature and Spanish. Some writing assignments also made up a certain part of a grade, like for PE, we’re required to make a write-up of how we plan to prepare for the mile run and then reflect and analyze the run afterwards. That was all for a grade. Other times, the majority of the writing assignments given to us were endless, always came back to the same conclusions and were, at times, pointless. (By pointless, I only mean that we’d learned and completely understood everything in class and didn’t need to spend an extra three hours at home writing a long report on something that already made sense.)

Throughout this entire year, I was given countless opportunity to develop and explore my writing. Granted, I would have liked to do more creative writing but I never really had the chance to. I did get that one chance to explore some creative writing when we had to write a pastiche for After Dark during our absurdism unit in English. Other than that, though, I wasn’t able to do anything creative this year and that really disappointed me. That was my “thumbs down” of the year. The thumbs up was the pastiche and the opportunity to use my blog more. I enjoy blogging (is it obvious?) because it’s really modern, I’m good at it, and it’s more interesting than writing a normal report. It also lets me put out my writing into the world more and that’s always a bonus despite my tentativeness to show people in the first place. (Blogging forces you to put it out into the public, no questions asked.)

Last year, I know that my writing always beat around the bush and wasn’t straight to the point all the time. I think I was able to fix that a little bit more this year and focus only on making my statement clearly and cleverly and moving on. Also, I think I was able to put a lot more personality into my writing this year. In the past, I would write and write, and be done with whatever I was writing. I may have had some personality in the past – I don’t remember and I never paid attention – but this year, I paid more attention to the voice in my writing and I think that has developed a lot. I believe this is because of my excessive use of my WordPress blog. Blogs are a lot more laid-back and casual and I was able to put a lot of pizzazz in my posts, subconsciously developing the voice of my writing in the process.

My voice is one of my strengths now, at least, that’s what I think. It makes my writing interesting and a lot more fun to read than the average paper that only drones on and on. Another strength in my writing is my organization. I tend to make at least a small plan before writing most of my essays, reports and blog posts, if not a long outline with details, example sentences and explanations. Because of this, I think my writing usually has a good and easy flow to follow. Everything is normally logical and although the details may not always be very clean and supportive, I follow a route and a path that’s basically making a point at the beginning, supporting the point with other facts and explanations, and then ending by restating the first point I made and asserting it further. Organization is one of my strengths but also something I can always work on.

I think my biggest weakness is knowing how to word things properly and concisely. I have so much to say all the time whether it’s orally or in my writing and I always try to cram all of it in at once. My mindset is that all of the things I want to say matter and I should find a way to put all of it on paper (or laptop) before I forget anything. This shouldn’t be the case, though. I think my mindset should be something along the lines of, “Okay, I have a lot of thoughts but the best way to communicate those thoughts is to filter them, choose the best and most intelligent thoughts and put that in a few sentences.” I’ve been working on that and am still in the process of developing my skill in writing concisely. It’s definitely a weakness, in my book.

Now, down to the basics and specifics. The course this year in English was quite good and rather interesting, I think. We learned a lot of techniques and specific ways to write. We studied drama for the first time in my history of learning English. I got the chance to study Antigone and I’ve always been interested in Greek history (the more tragic, the better!). I think the choices for the units were good for tenth grade. Last year, in ninth grade, there was a lot of literature in the form of novels and books. This year, we saw more short stories and plays, not all books. I think this was a good introduction for us into more mature forms of literature and now it’s clearer that books are not the only form of good writing. However, despite all that we learned this year, it would still be good to work on creative writing, as I mentioned before. I know they’ll keep all of the reports and commentaries and that’s good, keep the commentaries because we didn’t get nearly enough practice this year. But I do have to recommend that the course gives the students more chance to write creatively because I’ve seen how much my creative writing has deteriorated recently. With the lack of practice and the time to write creatively, my creative writing, though informative and still interesting, just isn’t that good anymore. I had more chances in ninth grade and tenth grade should have more chances, too.

With that said, I expect more chances to write creatively next year. Of course, I do want to continue learning how to write commentaries (because the most recent commentary I wrote was a bucket of cat food) because analyzing literature is actually interesting, contradictory to what most students think. I expect cold, hard lessons in writing and, although I’m scared of them, I expect ruthless, merciless critique. Lots of it. It will break my heart and make me feel like a worthless human being but I know that in the end, it will improve my writing and before I know it, I’ll be piling literature and writing awards in my closet. I can’t say I’m ready to face critiques next year but I expect and want a lot of it from students and teachers alike.

Finally, as a learning goal for next year, I want to expand my vocabulary, improve my use of vocabulary, continue to learn more forms of literature (I am being honest, learning about the forms of literature we did this year was so fascinating), improve my skills in analyzing literature, and write creatively a lot more. I have an entire year. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to do all of this. I love writing. I’m not quite sure why, but I do (a lot) and this year was a good growth period for me. Hopefully next year will be, too.

But would you actually kill a mockingbird?

12/02/2012 § 1 Comment

Another Individual Oral Commentary,
but this time on a speech from the movie 
To Kill a Mockingbird, also based on the book.

Atticus’s speech in To Kill a Mockingbird was used as a final closing argument during court in which he represented the wrongly accused Tom Robinson, a black man. As a serious and very important event in his and Robinson’s case, the speech used many techniques in order to convince the court and judge that Robinson is innocent. This IOC explores the ways Atticus uses these techniques and how effective they may be.

Embed probably didn’t work so click here for the actual commentary recording.


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greek girls and ny rebellions

23/01/2012 § Leave a comment

An essay.

If you’re really that interested, upload the essay by clicking on this word.

When hubris collides

22/01/2012 § Leave a comment

The Individual Oral Commentary on Sophocles’ Play Antigone

The most reliable way to see it is here. This is the link to the screencast on ScreenShare.com. Just click here.

If you’d like the actual annotated .pdf file with all the side notes, click on the next word.

And just in case, try this for size: http://content.screencast.com/users/Kari9/folders/Jing/media/536e840f-37b1-4ab1-aab3-6c6b4022ac0d/jingswfplayer.swf.

Duality – Two Sides, Not One

25/11/2011 § Leave a comment

In the video montage shown above, the theme and creation of the video was focused on representing the duality seen in the novel After Dark. We thought that the use of duality in Haruki Murakami’s novel was his way of describing a certain part of the human experience. This struggle is more specifically a human’s personal struggle to maintain his or her two personalities. In this video presentation, my partner and I used videos, music, and images to display the two sides of a human being. These include images of a normal human’s life, meaning the average emotions and experiences. Such emotions include love, trust, and the feeling of being safe, as seen in the first part of the video. The other images consist of a person’s “other half” or the side that they rarely tap into unless they really lose psychological control over their subconscious. The music we used for the video consisted of the songs Hot Air Balloon by Owl City , To The Sky by Owl City, Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. These were the happier tunes we used to represent the good side of a person. The songs we used to represent a person’s “other side” aka, their “dark” side were Scarlet by Brooke Fraser, The Scientist by Coldplay, Fix You by Coldplay and Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. We tried not to use the lyrics of each of the songs (although some of the words can be heard for one or two of the songs) and instead focused on the tunes. The happier songs consisted of upbeat tunes that sounded like a celebration of life and the sadder songs consisted of sounds and tunes that were more sorrowful and expressed a lot more confusion. The difference between these types of songs display the duality of a person. Generally, people can be happy with their current life, etc. but another part of a person can desire to stay on the darker, more negative side of the spectrum. I believe that this happens to everybody.

Of the quotes we chose from the book, we tried to pick ones that focused on Shirakawa and Mari. We understood that Kaoru was also a character who might have represented some duality but also thought that Shirakawa’s and Mari’s duality was a lot more obvious and noticeable. An example of one of the quotes we used was, “What makes the mask truly eerie is that even though it fits the face like a second skin, it prevents us from even imagining what (if anything) the person within is thinking, feeling, or planning.” (p. 63) This quote shows that the character (Shirakawa) is wearing a mask constantly and hides an inner personality or creature inside of him. Yurika and I strongly believe that people in general have one outer personality that they are comfortable showing other people, for example, Mari’s strong personality showing that she is brave and doesn’t really think much of her sister, but also have an inner personality that they are less comfortable to show the world, like Mari’s uncertain and vulnerable side. Another quote we used to describe duality and a human’s struggle to keep his or her dark side in check is, “He holds his breath and never blinks, fully expecting that, if he were to stay like this long enough, some other thing might emerge.” (p. 162). This part of the novel informed the readers that Shirakawa knew of his other (darker) persona and was aware of what happened whenever he made the switch to his other side. This quote explains that, including in real life, people are aware of their other side, their “darker persona”, per se. They are aware that it is there but they are rather [unconsciously] skilled at keeping it in check and not tapping into it. Some people (like Shirakawa) are not as lucky. As stated in the video: “There are always two sides to a person,” although the two sides may not be extreme or it may not be obvious. The video focuses on showing that people have their bright and normal side – but everyone also has a risk of losing themselves to their darker side.

6 Degrees and Back to the Start

30/09/2011 § Leave a comment

See the .pdf file of 6 degrees of separation for A Walk to the Jetty by clicking this link: Six Degrees of Separation – Kari.

This paragraph was originally longer than it looks now.

31/08/2011 § 1 Comment

How do the characters come of age?

In the short story The Boat, the characters who come of age do their best to ignore the scorn from certain characters and pursue the things they want to do in their lives with support from other characters. The character that shows the most contempt and disapproval towards the sisters’ and boy’s dreams is their overly traditional mother. “…without theological aid, ‘I would like to know how books help anyone to live a life.’” (p. 10) She is the brick wall that keeps the sisters and boy from pursuing an academic and educational dream that kept up with the changing world. “…‘I don’t know what’s the matter with my girls. It seems none of them are interested in any of the right things.’” (p. 11) She even verbally attacks her husband, blaming him about the decisions her daughters were making: “‘Well, I hope you’ll be satisfied when they come home knocked up and you’ll have had your way.’” (p. 11) The sisters, however, refuse to succumb to any of her torments and continue to meet new people and experience new things that their mother disapproves of: “Each year another of my sisters would read the books and work in the restaurant,” (p. 15) which is exactly what their mother doesn’t want them to be doing. They find the strength to disobey their mother’s wishes because of the faith their father has in them, “Sometimes they would talk to him a long time, the murmur of their voices blending with the music of the radio…” (p. 15). Eventually, the sisters part ways with their families, still maintaining contact, but dispersing around America. The boy eventually finds his own way, after his father’s death, pursuing a career he wants to take up, not something his uptight mother wants him to do. Like his sisters before him, he ignores his mother’s overwhelming discouragement and, perhaps partially in honour of his father, follows the dream he originally set out for himself.


Self-assessed grade for the original paragraph, with some notes after the changes

A: 7 – The paragraph shows some literary features (inserting a quote within a sentence) and uses a pretty wide range of vocabulary but doesn’t use it effectively enough to imprint the message/theme of the paragraph into the reader’s mind. It demonstrates a good understanding of The Boat but not yet an in-depth understanding. There are lots of relevant details and explanations that explain the statement. The language was (originally) very wordy and sometimes confusing but after an edit, it sounds clearer and less complicated.

B: 8 – After getting a little bit of feedback, I was able to fix the paragraph and better it. The paragraph is written in a rather sophisticated and serious matter, maintaining formality. Sometimes it isn’t organized and clear but does try to follow a general idea.

C: 9 – The original paragraph had a few grammatical/wording errors that confused the readers. It does use a register that is sophisticated and matches the subject of the paragraph. There are rarely any grammatical errors and only a few tense errors. The paragraph also demonstrates a wide and rather appropriate range of vocabulary.

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